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CMA presses for release of Canadians held in Egyptian jail

The CMA has held discussions with a federal cabinet minister and joined forces with the World Medical Association (WMA) as it attempts to gain the release of two Canadians - a physician and a filmmaker - from an Egyptian jail.

Dr. Tarek Loubani, an emergency physician from London, Ont., and John Greyson of Toronto have been held without charge since their arrest in Cairo Aug. 16. They had been on their way to Gaza, where Loubani was scheduled to teach emergency medicine and Greyson was considering making a documentary film.

"It appears that these men were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and are now being held arbitrarily," says CMA President Louis Hugo Francescutti. "If Egyptian authorities want to retain any kind of legitimacy with the world community, they should let them go immediately and provide safe passage out of Egypt.

"The CMA and WMA demand that Egyptian authorities follow the principles of natural justice and end this extended detention." The CMA is a member of the WMA, which represents 102 national medical associations on the international stage.

Francescutti says the CMA has discussed the issue with Lynne Yelich, the minister of state for foreign affairs, to determine how it can help obtain the men's release. Federal officials have told the CMA they have been moved to a better and less crowded cell at Canada's request. The New York Times reported Sept. 17 that Loubani and Greyson have begun a hunger strike to protest a decision to extend their detention by 15 more days.

Loubani's family says the two men had been held been held in a crowded cell with 38 other inmates - it had a single sink and toilet - for their first 30 days of captivity.

Loubani, a family physician trained in emergency medicine, graduated from the University of Western Ontario in 2007.

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