CAIRO -- Two Canadian nationals who endured a seven-week prison ordeal in Egypt were on their way home on Friday, media in their home country reported.
Filmmaker John Greyson and physician Tarek Loubani were released from jail last weekend but were turned away when they tried to board a flight out of Egypt on Sunday. On Friday, they were finally allowed to go, taking a flight headed for Canada via Germany, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.
“We cannot wait to see our families, who will be waiting for us … where we can share hugs, tears and laughs privately,” the two said in a pre-departure statement, according to the CBC. “We can’t wait!"
The men were detained Aug. 16, as street clashes raged in Cairo between Egyptian security forces and supporters of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted in early July. Stumbling across one such confrontation, Greyson shot video and Loubani rendered medical aid to injured protesters. They were arrested later when they tried to get directions back to their hotel from police.
In a jailhouse letter last month, the pair described beatings, a cockroach-infested cell, interrogations and being forced to sleep on bare, filthy floors, with no access to clean drinking water. Egyptian detainees endured the same harsh treatment, they said.
The coup that deposed Morsi, and a subsequent bloody crackdown on his supporters that left hundreds dead, led to a U.S. decision this week to suspend hundreds of millions of dollars worth of military aid to Egypt. The Obama administration said the suspension could be lifted if the interim government takes steps toward democratization.
Morsi has been imprisoned since he was deposed on July 3, and Egyptian authorities had announced this week that he would be put on trial next month. Most senior leaders of his Muslim Brotherhood have been jailed, with others on the run. Up to 2,000 rank-and-file followers have been detained as well.
The case of Greyson and Loubani became a cause celebre in Canada, where supporters launched a petition drive, set up a website and enlisted celebrities to speak out on behalf of the two. Relatives said during their time in jail, they were unaware of the high-profile campaign that had been taking place.