PEN Canada concerned for detained Canadians

PEN Canada press release

Toronto, September 19, 2013 – Today PEN Canada voiced concern at the decision of Egyptian authorities to continue holding Canadian citizens John Greyson and Tarek Loubani, without charge, in a Cairo prison. Greyson and Loubani were detained on August 16, 2013 after entering a police station to ask for directions. The two men were en route to Gaza but could not travel there due to the recent political unrest in Cairo.

On September 15, the Cairo district prosecutor announced that Greyson and Loubani would remain in detention for another 15 days. No reason was given for the extension, and to date no charges have been laid. Under emergency measures recently introduced in Egypt, Loubani and Greyson could be held without charge for up to two years.

John Greyson is a filmmaker, writer, and Professor in the Department of Film at York University. Dr. Tarek Loubani is an emergency physician and a member of Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care, which works to provide volunteer medical treatment in international conflicts and for refugees in Canada.

“Every Canadian should be concerned about this,” said Jim Creskey, Chair of PEN Canada’s Writers in Prison Committee. “We’ve seen this happen too many times before. Less than a month ago the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention agreed to draft guiding principles on the rights of those deprived of their liberty to challenge the legality of the detention before a court. This is exactly the sort of case they had in mind. Unless the Egyptian authorities can justify the detention, they should release Professor Greyson and Dr. Loubani without any further delay.”

Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Egypt is a signatory, guarantees that:
• no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention, and that
• anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court, in order that that court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if the detention is not lawful.

PEN Canada is a nonpartisan organization of writers that works with others to defend freedom of expression as a basic human right, at home and abroad. PEN Canada promotes literature, fights censorship, helps free persecuted writers from prison, and assists writers living in exile in Canada.

For further information: Brendan de Caires, PEN Canada, bdecaires[at] or 416-703-8448 ext. 21