TORONTO – Canadian stars in the city for the Toronto International Film Festival are calling for the release of two men being detained in Egypt.
In August, York University professor and filmmaker John Greyson and Dr. Tarek Loubani of London, Ont. were travelling to the Al Shifa hospital in Gaza where the filmmaker had been invited to film Dr. Loubani while he taught emergency medicine to staff there. They were arrested Aug. 16 amid deadly riots in Cairo after asking for directions back to their hotel.
Atom Egoyan, Sarah Polley and Michael Ondaatje attended a news conference at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in downtown Toronto.
They unveiled a growing list of prominent international names, calling for the release of the two men.
Polley says she has known Greyson since she was a teenager.
“We continue to call for the immediate release of Tarek and John who’ve been detained without charges now for 25 days. We are asking for your support to please bring them home,” she said at a news conference.
Greyson’s sister says the Canadian government has done all it can.
“We’ve had immense support from the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs. They have been very concerned about this issue from the very first day they learned about it,” she said.
She says the two men are sharing a cell with several dozen others.
“There is one tap, one toilet, for 38 people. It is certainly difficult for them.”
Director Egoyan encouraged people to sign an online petition to help bring his friend Greyson home.
“We’re really, really demanding that he be released and be allowed to do what he does best which is communicate his profound humanitarian concerns.”
More than 100,000 people have signed a petition calling for the men’s release. Toronto International Film Festival-goers have been showing their support and raising awareness of the pair’s plight by wearing the #FreeTarekandJohn buttons.
The two detained men are expected to appear Wednesday before a prosecutor in Cairo who will decide whether to release them.
Click here for more information about the men.
— With files from CityNews.ca