Tarek Loubani and John Greyson can't leave Egypt

Tarek Loubani, left, and John Greyson. (Handouts)

Tarek Loubani, left, and John Greyson. (Handouts)

Hank Daniszewski. QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:24 PM ET

LONDON, Ont. — Prime Minister Stephen Harper says it's likely a bureaucratic glitch that has left two Canadians stuck in Egypt.

Harper was reacting to news the Egyptian foreign ministry won’t allow London, Ont., doctor Tarek Loubani and Toronto filmmaker John Greyson to leave the country until an investigation into possible charges is completed.

The pair were unexpectedly freed from prison Saturday after they were held for 50 days without charges in crowded, cockroach-infested cells.

Speaking to reporters in Indonesia, where he’s attending a summit, Harper acknowledged the delay was hard on family and supporters in Canada but he said he’s optimistic Loubani and Greyson would be back in Canada in the “near future.”

“The fact that these individuals have been released from custody is a good sign. It is our view ... that this is probably just a case of a lack of clarity and co-ordination within the bureaucracy,” Harper said.

Greyson's sister, Cecilia, said the pair are in a safehouse in Cairo and are doing well.

"We knew this was going to be a long process," she said at a rally Monday in support of the men. "They're back on solid food and their health is good. They're getting adjusted to life outside of the prison."

But Michael Lynk, a Western University law professor and friend of Loubani's, said the refusal to let the men leave Egypt is a "worrisome" development that may signal infighting from various factions of the Egyptian government.

"It could be ... the prosecution wanted to free them from prison to escape relentless pressure from the Canadian government but always intended to keep them in Egypt."

Loubani and Greyson were taken from prison to a Cairo hotel by Canadian consular officials and were booked to fly to Frankfurt, Germany, on Sunday.

But officials at the airport told them their names were on a travel ban, their lawyer told Reuters. They were allowed to leave the airport with their luggage.

Marwa Farouk said she would be appealing to the prosecutor general to lift the travel ban.

Lynk said it's a relief Loubani and Greyson are in much less danger now that they've been released from the notorious Tora prison, but “as long as they are on Egyptian soil they could be charged and convicted and be back in jail.”

Loubani and Greyson were arrested in Cairo on Aug. 16 during deadly clashes between protesters and police.

They said they were in Egypt on their way to Gaza as part of a medical mission. According to a statement released by the pair, they were arrested and beaten after witnessing the deaths of more than 50 protesters.

Egyptian authorities claimed they were part of a conspiracy to attack a police station.

--with files from Jenny Yuen

hank.daniszewski@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @HankatLFPress


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