Filmmaker John Greyson
Two Canadian men, Dr. Tarek Loubani and well known gay filmmaker John Greyson, may spend at least another 45 days in prison in Egypt.
The men were arrested on the 16th of August after filming a demonstration near their hotel in Cairo.
They say they documented the deaths of fifty Egyptians, who were “students, workers, professionals, professors, all shapes, all ages, unarmed”. Dr Loubani also provided medical assistance to injured people at the scene.
After leaving the site of the demonstration and approaching police for help finding their way to their hotel, the pair reported being “arrested, searched, caged, questioned, interrogated, videotaped with a ‘Syrian terrorist’, slapped, beaten, ridiculed, hot-boxed, refused phone calls, stripped, shaved bald, [and] accused of being foreign mercenaries.”
An Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman has confirmed that the men will be charged with “participating in an illegal demonstration” and that their detention would be extended for a further 45 days.
The spokesman, in the same interview, indicated that prosecutors were considering espionage charges against the two Canadians based on “surveillance equipment” they found in their possession.
The equipment consists of a laptop, camera gear, a home wireless router, and a toy helicopter.
Loubani and Greyson have embarked on a hunger strike in protest at their continued arrest and treatment.
“Given John and Tarek’s horrendous experiences from the day of their arrest until now, we have absolutely no faith that they will receive justice at the hands of the Egyptian legal system,” commented Cecilia Greyson, John’s sister.
“We have every reason to believe, given the absence of evidence against Tarek and John, and the ridiculous nature of the charges, that they are not being held for anything that they did; they are being held because of what they saw and documented on August 16th,” she added.
Greyston has visited South Africa a number of times and his films, including Zero Patience, Lilies and Fig Trees, have been screened at the Out in Africa Film Festival over the years.
He also directed the film Proteus, about a real life gay relationship in 18th-century South Africa, which led to Claas Blank and Rijkhaart Jacobsz being executed for sodomy in 1735.