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Daughter writes poem to free Canadian man detained in Cairo prison without charge

Read here: https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/daughter-writes-poem-to-free-canadian-man-detained-in-cairo-prison-without-charge-1.4879745?fbclid=IwAR2GrnaZXmaItMkmFlGNJ9z6CG6M3MSPj5o_7NnMlbOEx0wbIfH0U7Nywjc

TORONTO — An Ontario poet is hoping that a poem she wrote will bring attention to the plight of her father, a Canadian man, who has been imprisoned for more than 400 days inside a Cairo jail notorious for its human violations.

Oakville, Ont. resident Amal Ahmed Albaz wrote the poem for her father, who spent his second birthday in a row at the Tora Prison despite having no charges or accusations laid against him.

Yasser Ahmed Albaz, a 52-year-old Canadian engineer, has been imprisoned at the jail since February 2019 after he was detained at the airport on his way home from a business trip.

“It was the second birthday that he spent in prison alone and that was very devastating for us,” Amal told CTV News Toronto. “My father has always been one of my biggest supporters as a writer and as a poet and he has an absolute love for poetry.”

Wife of Yasser Albaz,

Amal said she is hoping the poem will remind Canadians and the government of her father’s situation. The Albaz family are concerned at the lack of progress made on the case since the imprisonment. The global COVID-19 pandemic has also heightened their worries.

“We are very grateful that the Canadian government considers this to be top priority, but at the same time, we have not seen any results and the question is why?” Amal said.

“Clearly, the Canadian governments approach is lacking something and it needs to be fixed … It’s about time our government intensified the negotiations for my father’s release and just brings him home.

“He is Canada’s responsibility. Every Canadian has the right to safely return home and we need to see that happen.”

It’s not the first time a Canadian resident has been arbitrarily detained in Egypt. Tarek Loubani, a Canadian doctor, spent seven weeks in Tora Prison without charges. Mohamed Fahmy, an award-winning Canadian journalist, had also been imprisoned for over a year.

Yasser Ahmed Albaz

Several other countries, including Germany, France and Australia, have successfully brought their nationals home after pressuring the Egyptian government.

Canadian officials have said they have tried to discuss Yasser’s case with Egyptian authorities, but Amal says that no progress has been made.

“The Prime Minister raised this case directly with the Egyptian President on the margins of the 33rd African Union Summit,” a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada told CTV News Toronto.

Hundreds of emails and thousands of letters and phone calls have been made to the government from Canadians urging immediate action, Amal said.

“It came as a complete shock to everyone and this why everyone is completely devastated,” Amal said. “The fact that everyone has mobilized for him really speaks to his character and the type of man that he is.”

amal2

Amal’s poem to her father illustrates some of the grief and loss she and her family have felt. They have had no communication with Yasser since he was detained.

“To this day, there absolutely no justification, no charges laid, not a single accusation as to why our innocent father is unjustly detained or how he’s robbed of his freedom completely unexplained,” she writes.

“Baba, how can I sleep in my warm bed when you’re sleeping on cold, concrete floor? How can I be in comfort when I know your entire body is sore?”

She writes that her father has missed his youngest daughter’s wedding, his son’s graduation and all his grandchildren’s milestones—events, she said, that are painful to get through without him.  

Family of Canadian man detained in Egypt urges government to help bring him home

Read here: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2019/12/11/family-of-canadian-man-detained-in-egypt-urges-government-to-help-bring-him-home.html

OTTAWA—The family of a Canadian man who has been in a Cairo prison for the last 10 months wants Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, who is in Egypt this week, to secure his release and bring him home.

“My father has been asking every single day what Canada is doing to get him out and bring him home,” his daughter, Amal Ahmed Albaz, said at a news conference in Ottawa on Wednesday.

“We need more than just caring,” she said.

Yasser Ahmed Albaz, a 51-year-old engineer from Oakville, Ont., has been in a Cairo prison since February, when he was detained at the airport on his way home from a business trip. He is a dual citizen who was travelling on his Canadian passport.

Adam Austen, a spokesman for Champagne, said the foreign affairs minister raised the case directly with his Egyptian counterpart Wednesday.

Champagne is in Aswan, Egypt, this week for an African development conference.

“We will continue to raise it at the highest levels of the Egyptian government and consular officials will remain in regular contact with local authorities,” Austen wrote in an email Wednesday. He said he could provide no further details for privacy reasons.

Amal Ahmed Albaz said her family still does not know why her father was detained and questioned and that he has not been charged.

“My father has done absolutely nothing wrong. He has suffered immensely,” she said.

“He needs medical help and he needs to be reunited with our family.”

Justin Mohammed, the human rights law and policy campaigner at Amnesty International, also urged the federal government to take stronger action.

“Ongoing detention without charge is unacceptable and the minister must ensure that his Egyptian counterparts put an immediate end to the human rights abuses that Yasser is suffering,” he said at the news conference Wednesday.

The family has been told by his lawyer that Yasser Ahmed Albaz is being held in the Tora Prison complex in Cairo, which has been the subject of concern by various human rights groups in recent years.

His daughter said he immigrated to Canada from Egypt more than 20 years ago and that the Egyptian government is aware that he is Canadian.

“He’s done absolutely nothing wrong. He has no political affiliation whatsoever,” she said. “He’s not active politically, so this came as a complete shock to our family when it happened and to this day we are very concerned and we’re very confused.”

His wife, Safaa Eleshmawy, said the role that her husband played in the community is one of the reasons he has so much support.

“He dedicated his life to help others,” she said.

She said he never turned his back when he saw someone in need.

“A country should be proud of such a citizen and not leave him behind.”

Family of Ontario man detained in Egypt pleads for help from Ottawa

Read here: https://globalnews.ca/video/6285334/family-of-ontario-man-detained-in-egypt-urges-action-from-ottawa-for-release

The family of a Canadian man who has been in a Cairo prison for the last 10 months wants Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, who is in Egypt this week, to secure his release and bring him home.

“My father has been asking every single day what Canada is doing to get him out and bring him home,” his daughter, Amal Ahmed Albaz, said at a news conference in Ottawa on Wednesday.

“We need more than just caring,” she said.

Yasser Ahmed Albaz, a 51-year-old engineer from Oakville, Ont., has been in a Cairo prison since February, when he was detained at the airport on his way home from a business trip. He is a dual citizen who was travelling on his Canadian passport.

Adam Austen, a spokesman for Champagne, said the foreign affairs minister raised the case directly with his Egyptian counterpart Wednesday.

Champagne is in Aswan, Egypt, this week for an African development conference.

“We will continue to raise it at the highest levels of the Egyptian government and consular officials will remain in regular contact with local authorities,” Austen wrote in an email Wednesday. He said he could provide no further details for privacy reasons.

Amal Ahmed Albaz said her family still does not know why her father was detained and questioned and that he has not been charged.

“My father has done absolutely nothing wrong. He has suffered immensely,” she said.

“He needs medical help and he needs to be reunited with our family.”

Justin Mohammed, the human rights law and policy campaigner at Amnesty International, also urged the federal government to take stronger action.

“Ongoing detention without charge is unacceptable and the minister must ensure that his Egyptian counterparts put an immediate end to the human rights abuses that Yasser is suffering,” he said at the news conference Wednesday.

The family has been told by his lawyer that Yasser Ahmed Albaz is being held in the Tora Prison complex in Cairo, which has been the subject of concern by various human rights groups in recent years.

His daughter said he immigrated to Canada from Egypt more than 20 years ago and that the Egyptian government is aware that he is Canadian.

“He’s done absolutely nothing wrong. He has no political affiliation whatsoever,” she said. “He’s not active politically, so this came as a complete shock to our family when it happened and to this day we are very concerned and we’re very confused.”

His wife, Safaa Eleshmawy, said the role that her husband played in the community is one of the reasons he has so much support.

“He dedicated his life to help others,” she said.

She said he never turned his back when he saw someone in need.STORY CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

“A country should be proud of such a citizen and not leave him behind.”

Yasser Ahmed Albaz’s Detention In Notorious Egyptian Prison Renewed Yet Again

Read here: https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/yasser-ahmed-albaz-egypt_ca_5cd5958ae4b07bc72979737b

Yasser Ahmed Albaz's daughter Amal says his detention in Egypt's notorious Tora prison has been renewed...
Yasser Ahmed Albaz’s daughter Amal says his detention in Egypt’s notorious Tora prison has been renewed yet again. He has not been charged.

The daughter of a Canadian man who has been languishing in a brutal Egyptian prison for more than two months says his detention has been renewed yet again.

Amal Ahmed Albaz told HuffPost Canada her father Yasser still hasn’t been charged with anything or told why he is being detained.

“A part of us is still in shock and can’t wrap our heads around what’s happening,” Albaz said.

The Oakville, Ont. family’s nightmare began on Feb. 18 — Family Day in their province — when he was taken in for questioning by authorities at the Cairo airport while waiting to catch a flight back to Toronto. After sending them a text message to say he loved them, Yasser vanished.

Amal Ahmed Albaz, centre, is photographed with her sister Maryam and father
Amal Ahmed Albaz, centre, is photographed with her sister Maryam and father Yasser.

The family had no idea where he was for almost a week. Their confusion turned to abject horror when a lawyer in Cairo told them Yasser was questioned and taken to Tora prison, a notorious institution that has been accused of human rights violations.

Albaz said that since then, Yasser has been receiving extensions on his detention from the state prosecutor without being charged. The most recent renewal was on April 15.

“They just go [to the prosecutor], they just renew his extension and he leaves. It’s very routine,” she said.

“The Canadian government has no knowledge of anything and even our lawyer on the ground has no knowledge of anything.”

Father in ‘psychological shock’

Albaz said her father’s situation is only getting worse. He is still sleeping on concrete floors in a cramped cell and eating unclean food.

Her uncle in Egypt has been allowed to visit Yasser. He tells them he is physically unharmed but appears to be in “psychological shock.”

“He’s trying to tell us he’s strong, that he’s fine, but I know he’s just telling that my uncle for our sake, to give us some peace and solace.”

Albaz said her father’s absence has hit the family hard. She said she is reminded of how long he’s been away just by looking at how much her three-month-old son has grown since

She said her mother did not leave the house for the first month.

“They’ve been married for 26 years. Her other half is literally gone.”

Albaz’s 13-year-old brother takes his dad’s watch to school.

“My mom says ‘this is huge on you, why are you taking it?’ He just responded ‘I want a piece of my dad with me.'”

And Albaz’s sister, who is getting married in almost two months, says she is “devastated” and afraid she’ll have to cancel the wedding if her father is not released in time.

“The moment we start to envision or picture what he’s doing, what he’s like in there, we break apart. So we try to not think of all the little details and just hope he’s OK,” Albaz said.

Yasser and his wife Safaa are pictured with their youngest
Yasser and his wife Safaa are pictured with their youngest grandson.

Albaz said Canadian consular officials have contacted Yasser to provide support. She also said that Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland reached out in person to express her concern and support to the family.

“We just hope that she will take personal action on this case. She’s kind of our only hope in this situation,” she said.

The family is worried that fabricated charges will be laid in Yasser’s case, Albaz added, which would lob it into a whole new dimension of legal issues.

She is afraid the case will slowly resemble that of Hazem Hamouda, an Australian-Egyptian citizen who spent more than a year in Tora prison without ever being charged. Although he was recently freed, Hamouda “vanished” for a month shortly before his scheduled release date in February, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“Right now is the best time for the Canadian government to intervene, because if it turns into a trial or if it enters the judicial process based on fabricated charges or evidence or anything like that, then it becomes much more difficult for the government to intervene.”

Throughout Yasser’s ordeal, Global Affairs Canada has only told HuffPost that the government is aware of a Canadian being detained in Egypt and is providing consular services. The department said it could not provide any more information due to the Privacy Act

On Wednesday, a spokesperson confirmed that Freeland reached out to Albaz’s family and that officials are working with local authorities to “obtain more information.”

To pressure the government to escalate its response, Albaz started a petition on March 28 — her father’s 51st birthday — to call on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Freeland to intervene. To date, more than 20,000 people have signed the campaign.

“How long is the Canadian government going to wait before they actually make this a priority? How long before they decide to bring him home?” Albaz said.

“They say this is a priority and I want to believe them, [but] the only way I can come to believe them is if he’s home, it’s if I know there’s a clear plan on what is being done to bring him home.”

Family of Canadian man detained in Egypt plead for help

The family of Amal Ahmed Albaz, a Canadian man detained in a notorious Egyptian prison, are pleading with the Canadian government to help them bring him home. Faiza Amin with the latest on the diplomatic efforts to help the Oakville resident.

Family of Canadian man detained in Egypt plead for help

The family of Amal Ahmed Albaz, a Canadian man detained in a notorious Egyptian prison, are pleading with the Canadian government to help them bring him home. Faiza Amin with the latest on the diplomatic efforts to help the Oakville resident.

Posted by CityNews Toronto on Thursday, March 7, 2019

Daughter of Canadian man detained in Egypt begs Trudeau to intervene

Read here: https://www.trtworld.com/mea/daughter-of-canadian-man-detained-in-egypt-begs-trudeau-to-intervene-24600

Last month as Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el Sisi was mingling with senior European leaders in the resort city of Sharm el Sheikh, a 24-year-old Amal Ahmed was busy in Canada mobilising support for her father who had been detained by the Egyptian authorities. 

After a short business trip, Yasser Ahmed Albaz, 51, was about to board a Canada-bound flight on February 18 at the Cairo International Airport when his passport was taken away and his bags brought down from the plane. 

“At 10 o’clock he wrote on our family Whatsapp group that he loved us. We didn’t hear from him for a week,” Amal told TRT World over the phone from her home in Oakville, Ontario, where the family of five has lived for 20 years. 

Initially, the Egyptian authorities denied Albaz was in their custody.  Then he was brought before the prosecutor a week later. 

“He hasn’t been charged with anything,” says Amal.

Amal Ahmed, a former Toronto Star reporter, has pleaded Canadian government to intervene in securing her father's release.
Amal Ahmed, a former Toronto Star reporter, has pleaded Canadian government to intervene in securing her father’s release. (Getty Images)

The family’s biggest concern is that Albaz is being kept at the Tora Prison, which is notorious as a place where prisoners are routinely tortured. 

Amal says she and her family travels to Egypt regularly. “We were there just last summer to celebrate my younger sister’s engagement. Nothing like this has ever happened. We have never been questioned or anything like that.”

The Egyptian government is accused of arbitrarily arresting thousands of political and civil rights activists on fabricated charges.

While American and European lawmakers have voiced concerns over human rights violations, their governments continue to back Sisi, a former military commander who came to power in a coup in 2013. 

Since then the Egyptian military has used brutal force to stifle any sort of dissent – often with the indirect backing of its western allies. 

In January 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron was in Egypt where he defended France's security collaboration with Sisi's government.
In January 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron was in Egypt where he defended France’s security collaboration with Sisi’s government. (Getty Images)

Double standards

The EU’s commitment to human rights, especially its staunch opposition to capital punishment, came under the spotlight last month when its senior leadership, including European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, attended the first EU-Arab League summit in Sharm el Sheikh. 

In the month of February alone Egypt executed 15 men after trials which the United Nations and other human rights organisations termed ‘unfair’. 

It has made some European lawmakers question the close ties with Sisi’s government. 

“We cannot deny the fact that holding of the summit in Egypt at the court of the Pharaoh Al Sisi, has recognised, by default, the authority of the Egyptian dictator,” Pier Antonio Panzeri, a member of the European Parliament, told TRT World

Panzeri, an Italian, heads the EU’s Subcommittee on Human Rights which has been pressing Egypt to solve the case of Giulio Regeni, the young researcher who was murdered in Cairo in 2016.

Paola, the mother of Giulio Regeni, speaks at a press conference in Rome on March 29, 2016.
Paola, the mother of Giulio Regeni, speaks at a press conference in Rome on March 29, 2016. (AP)

“It thus seems absurd that the heads of European governments can truly believe the promises made by the Egyptian leader,” said Panzeri. Particularly, he added, when Sisi is seeking to amend the constitution to extend his rule and his government had just executed so many people.

EU leaders such as French President Emmanuel Macron consider Egypt important in fighting terrorism and stemming the flow of refugees. 

France has become Egypt’s largest supplier of military equipment even as human rights organisations say that weapons meant to be deployed against terrorists are used against dissidents. 

“The alarmist political narrative (of migration) that has spread through the EU member states in recent years – especially those bordering the Mediterranean – has increased citizens’ concerns about the issue exponentially,” says Panzeri. 

“For this reason, many countries have preferred to close their eyes to the human rights situation, provided that Egypt takes responsibility for migrants from other African countries, thus acting as a barrier.”

The EU has struggled to come up with a collective response to Egypt because individual member states have their own bilateral interests to look after, he says. 

“Let us not forget that the European Union is a fundamental trading partner for Egypt, and trade can therefore be used as a tool to force the North African country to meet certain standards in the field of human rights.”

Egypt has even detained US citizens, which gives over a billion dollars in military and economic aid to Sisi’s government every year. 

Hosam Khalaf and Ola al Qaradawi, both from the United States, have been in an Egyptian prison since June 2017 without any charges

Washington also looks at its decades-old ally from the prism of security.  

Amid these varying policy interests, Amal is hoping for her father’s return. “It has been a shock for us and I hope the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will take up the issue.”

‘I want my father home’: Family of man detained in Egypt calls on Canada to intervene

Read here: https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/i-want-my-father-home-family-man-detained-egypt-calls-canada-intervene

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s government has been accused of using arbitrary detention to silence its critics (Reuters/File photo)

The family of an Egyptian-Canadian man detained in Egypt for almost two weeks has called on the “highest levels” of Canada’s government to intervene, saying they fear for the safety of Yasser Ahmed Albaz.

In a news conference on Thursday morning in Ottawa, Albaz’s daughter, Amal, said her family has been living a nightmare since 18 February, when Albaz was detained at Cairo International Airport.

“Our lives have turned upside down. Our pain is like a cloud that’s constantly hovering over us … We’re all impacted by this storm,” she told reporters.

“We need the Canadian government to intervene at the highest levels and bring my father home.”

Albaz, a 51-year-old engineer and businessman, was detained at the airport in Cairo as he attempted to return to Canada from a business trip. At first, the Egyptian authorities denied he was in their custody, his family said.

“My father was subjected to enforced disappearance for days,” Amal said.

The family was able to confirm Albaz’s whereabouts when he was taken to the Egyptian state security prosecutor’s office for questioning on 23 February, they said in a statement earlier this week.

He was interrogated again a few days later, on 26 February.

He now is being held at the notorious Tora prison facility in the capital, and his family says they expect him to be questioned again on Saturday.

“Until this moment, my dad continues to be detained at one of the worst prisons in the world. He is sleeping on a concrete floor, without a blanket,” Amal said.

Fears of abuse, mistreatment

Albaz’s family and supporters in Canada also raised concerns on Thursday about the conditions he may be facing in Egyptian detention.

The Egyptian government under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has been accused of myriad human rights violations, including the use of torture in order to coerce confessions from detainees.

Human rights groups have described the country’s justice system as deeply flawed, pointing to a widespread lack of due process.

On Monday, a Canadian government spokesman told MEE in an email that “consular services are being provided to a Canadian citizen who has been detained in Egypt and to their family”.

The spokesman said further details could not be provided in light of Canada’s privacy laws.

Ahmed Abdelkader, chairman of the Egyptian Canadian Coalition for Democracy, an advocacy group, said while consular services are important, the Canadian government must escalate its diplomatic pressure on Egypt to secure Albaz’s release.Egypt: Executed prisoners had said they were forced to confess to prosecutor’s killingRead More »

“[Albaz] is not the first Canadian to be arbitrarily detained by the current Egyptian regime. Despite lessons learned from past cases, we are concerned that Canadian officials don’t appear to be treating the case with the urgency that it warrants,” Abdelkader said.

Speaking at the news conference on Thursday, he said that to his knowledge, Albaz has not been charged with a crime.

“A Canadian citizen is being arbitrarily held without charge by a brutal regime known for torture and abuse of prisoners,” Abdelkader said.

“It is imperative that [Canadian officials] use any leverage they have in these relations [with Egypt] to secure Yasser’s release. Every moment’s delay increases the risk to Yasser’s safety.”

That was echoed by Amal, Albaz’s daughter.

“We all lost weight, we all can’t sleep – but who am I to complain? It’s my baba [father] who’s truly suffering,” she said.

“We miss you, baba … I want this storm to end. I want to see the rainbow. I want my father home.”

Federal Government Must Escalate Case Of Yasser Ahmed Albaz, Canadian Held In Notorious Tora Prison: Ex-Prisoner

Read here: https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/yasser-ahmed-albaz-tarek-loubani_ca_5cd58b33e4b07bc729790ecc

Amal Ahmed Albaz says she has not heard from her father ever since he was detained in Egypt on Feb.
Amal Ahmed Albaz says she has not heard from her father ever since he was detained in Egypt on Feb. 18.

Yasser Ahmed Albaz’s last message to his family was, under any other circumstance, nothing to cause alarm.

It was February 18. Family Day. He was at the airport in Cairo waiting for a flight home after almost two months away for work.

After checking in his luggage, Yasser told his family he was “put on the side” by airport staff and was still waiting for his passport. He later let them know he was going to miss his flight. Then he told them he loved them.

Yasser Ahmed Albaz is pictured with his
Yasser Ahmed Albaz is pictured with his family

“That was the last direct communication we had with him,” his daughter Amal Albaz told HuffPost Canada.

Yasser sent one more message to a friend, explaining that he was being taken away by state security.

Albaz said she immediately reported the case to Canada’s emergency consular services line. She later learned her father was being subjected to “general questioning” but was allowed to have a lawyer present.

“The lawyer himself is very shocked,” she said. “He said this makes absolutely no sense. He has no idea why this is happening as well.”

For almost one week, the family had no idea where Yasser was. Then the nightmare began.

The lawyer told them Yasser has not been charged with anything but that he was being detained and taken to Egypt’s Tora prison complex, a notorious facility often used to detain political prisoners. It’s the same place where Muslim Brotherhood supporters were held after the Egyptian military overthrew Mohamed Morsi — a senior figure in the organization and the country’s first elected president — back in 2013. Many who are suspected of or charged with terrorism are also held there.

“It all feels so very surreal, but at the same time it feels like a nightmare that we’re not waking up from,” Albaz said.

Tora prison has been criticized by human rights advocates for its treatment of prisoners. Its reputation has become so grim that its maximum security wing has been nicknamed the “scorpion.”

According to a 2016 report from Human Rights Watch, inmates in that part of the complex aren’t given any beds or mattresses, sleeping on “concrete platforms” instead. They don’t receive any hygienic items and are often denied medical care and visits by family members, friends and lawyers.

On Wednesday, Albaz said in a statement that Canadian officials have located her father, who is in a “state of shock.”

“He has been sick for several days and the embassy has provided him with medication. He is forced to sleep on the concrete floor during Egypt’s winter, without a blanket or even a pillow. When family members tried providing these basic necessities to the prison, they were denied,” she wrote.

Oakville, Ont.-based engineer Yasser Ahmed Albaz, pictured with his daughter Maryam, has not been able...
Oakville, Ont.-based engineer Yasser Ahmed Albaz, pictured with his daughter Maryam, has not been able to contact his family since February 18.

Albaz said her father, an Oakville, Ont.-based engineer who regularly travels for work, regularly enters and leaves Egypt with no hassle. The family was there last summer for her sister’s engagement party.

“It’s still very unclear why they’re holding him,” Albaz said. “The only thing we can think of is this is a huge mistake. There’s definitely a huge misunderstanding. My father is not politically active, he has no political affiliations. Anything that could be kind of a trigger simply isn’t there.”

While Albaz and her family have no idea what kind of conditions their father is being held in, Tarek Loubani says he can “virtually guarantee” what the experience looks like.

The emergency physician at the London Health Sciences Centre knows first-hand of the horrific conditions at Tora prison. He was detained there for almost seven weeks along with fellow Canadian, filmmaker John Greyson in 2013.

Loubani and Greyson were in Cairo on their way to Gaza to produce a film. But while they were in the Egyptian capital, the deadly Rab’a protests broke out. Hundreds were killed in a brutal crackdown on demonstrators.

Loubani said he tried to tend to some of the wounded while Greyson filmed what was happening, but the two were later accused of killing a police officer, assisting the Muslim Brotherhood, carrying explosives and even simultaneously being informants for Hamas, the CIA and the Mossad.

“When I hear that nobody’s been allowed to see Yasser for a week, I can virtually guarantee you I know exactly what happened there, because that’s what happened with us, that’s what happened before us, that’s what happened after us,” he told HuffPost.

Loubani said on the first day of his detention he and other inmates were made to wait in a van in the scorching mid-August heat.

“They wanted us there, boiling alive.”

He said when the van’s doors opened, two teams of police officers holding clubs were outside.

Loubani said everyone got hit.

Those who could run away fastest got hit less. Anyone who fell while fleeing got hit the most.

Before entering the prison, Loubani said they were all made to wait in a room. The guards asked for the “Canadian” — Greyson.

Loubani said his colleague tried to say he is Canadian, hoping it would protect him somehow. It didn’t. The two were severely beaten, Loubani said.

“There was snot coming out of my nose, there was blood coming down. I was sweating. I was yelling. It was a terrible experience.”

Friends, family and colleagues of Tarek Loubani gather at a rally in Victoria Park in London, Ont. on...
Friends, family and colleagues of Tarek Loubani gather at a rally in Victoria Park in London, Ont. on Sept. 24, 2013, calling on the former Conservative government to become more involved in negotiating the release of Loubani and John Greyson.

There have also been reports of inmates at Tora being denied medical care. Khaled Al-Qazzaz, a Canadian resident who served as an adviser to Morsi, was placed in the prison for almost two years. He suffered spinal injuries while there and was only allowed access to a hospital after a year, according to the Toronto Star.

“The sanitary conditions were terrible and I had skin and stomach problems. My health was deteriorating,” Al-Qazzaz told paper in 2016.

A ‘Kafkaesque, brutal system’

Loubani said he and Greyson were allowed to be examined by a doctor after almost a week in Tora only because they were Canadian citizens.

“Nobody else got that. Nobody was allowed out of the cell for two weeks.”

The doctor documented that Loubani had broken ribs and noted he was concussed, that he was “pissing blood.” Greyson, Loubani said, was beaten so badly that he could almost make out a number “6” on his back from one of the guard’s boots.

“When we left, we left 50 days in, nobody had yet been charged,” Loubani said, adding that the time they spent in Tora was an “investigation period,” which is how authorities justified not laying any charges.

He said this was a pivotal time for Canadian authorities to intervene and secure their release.

“That’s why it was so key for us to get out before we were charged, because if we were charged then you’re part of this kind of Kafkaesque, brutal system. There’s not much that you can really do to interrupt it.”

Mahmoud Loubani (left) beams after his son Tarek Loubani (centre) and John Greyson returned to Canada...
Mahmoud Loubani (left) beams after his son Tarek Loubani (centre) and John Greyson returned to Canada after being imprisoned in Egypt for over a month.

Albaz echoed that concern. She said although Canadian authorities in Egypt are working to track down and visit her father, she wants more from the federal government at home.

Asked if Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland or Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were intervening in the case, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada only told HuffPost the government is aware of a Canadian detained in Egypt and noted that it was providing consular services.

“I’m not hearing any signals of urgency or escalations to the minister or higher, which is something that we need urgently,” Albaz said.

“I need my father out of prison and on a plane back home. Only [Freeland] can do that.”

Loubani said the federal government needs to apply political pressure and make it clear that there will be “consequences” if Yasser is not given his basic human rights. He said the former Conservative government took this type of approach when he was detained.

Canadian engineer Yasser Ahmed Albaz, right, is pictured with his daughters Maryam Ahmed (left) and Amal
Canadian engineer Yasser Ahmed Albaz, right, is pictured with his daughters Maryam Ahmed (left) and Amal Ahmed.

He said he understands how much Albaz’s family is suffering, and he can certainly understand what her father could be going through. But most of all, he hurts knowing that Yasser’s case is not unique.

“You know what the worst thing about it is? This is happening to thousands of Egyptians,” he said.

“And I know that we can’t change that or stop that, but we can in this one case, and we have to in this one case.”

Albaz said more than 3,000 emails have been sent to Freeland and other MPs urging the government to escalate its response and secure Yasser’s release. Loubani said that type of collective pressure on the government is crucial.

“We got out of because of the work of thousands of Canadians who made phone calls, who wrote letters and who signed petitions,” Loubani said.

“Sometimes it feels as though those efforts are in vain, but I’m free. And [Greyson] is free. And that would have never happened without every single person who signed, who called, who fought, who asked, who demanded. Not only is it a way, it’s probably the only way that this man comes home safely to his family.”

Canadian citizen detained in Egypt jails, says foreign ministry

Read here: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20190226-canadian-citizen-detained-in-egypt-jails-says-foreign-ministry/

Chrystia Freeland, Canadian Foreign Minister [Twitter]
Chrystia Freeland, Canadian Foreign Minister [Twitter]

Canada is “aware” that a Canadian citizen has been arrested by the Egyptian authorities and detained in the country’s local prisons, Canadian foreign ministry announced yesterday.

In an official statement, the ministry’s spokesperson Richard Walker said that the detainee, identified as Yasser Ahmed Albaz, was arrested in December during his business trip to Egypt, refusing to disclose further information about him “for privacy reasons.”

“Consular services are being provided to the family,” Walker stressed.

Albaz’s family told Canada’s CBC that he was stopped at the Cairo International Airport by the local security as he was attempting to board his flight back to the eastern Canadian province of Ontario.

The family explained that an airport security officer confiscated Albaz’s passport and informed him that his name was flagged for investigation. He was reported to have been arrested afterwards.

Right after his arrest, the family added, Albaz sent a text message to one of his friends, informing him that he had been arrested. “This is when we last heard from him [Albaz],” family stressed.

Albaz’s daughter, Amal, on her part, said that the Canadian government informed her family earlier this week that Canadian officials in Egypt were in contact with the local government “to seek answers.”

“The state authorities at first denied that they were holding my father, but later admitted he is in custody,” Amal pointed out, adding that the authorities refused to reveal Albaz’s whereabouts.

“An injustice has been done to my father,” she stressed.

The family called on the Canadian foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, to intervene and demand the release of Albaz.

Albaz is a Canadian 52-year-old engineer of Egyptian origin. For two decades, he and his family have been living in Ontario’s suburban town of Oakville.

Last Saturday, Canada’s foreign ministry-affiliated Global Affairs told the family that Albaz being questioned at the State Security Prosecutor’s office, noting that he had not been charged with any crimes. He was later transferred to Cairo’s Tora prison, according to the family.

In January, Cairo deported two Germans of Egyptian origin after being detained for allegedly “attempting to join Daesh terrorist ranks in the Sinai Peninsula.”

Since the President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi took power – after overthrowing Egypt’s first freely-elected president Mohamed Morsi in the 2013 military coup – the government has been launching a crackdown on anyone suspected of opposing Al-Sisi.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other humanitarian groups have repeatedly criticised the Egyptian authorities for carrying out arbitrary detentions, as well as torturing of detainees. Sisi denies the allegations.

Family frantic over arrest of Canadian engineer in Cairo

Read here: https://www.rcinet.ca/en/2019/02/25/family-frantic-over-arrest-of-canadian-engineer-in-cairo/

Yasser Ahmed Albaz, left, pictured with his wife, Safaa Elashmawy. He was detained at Cairo airport last Monday as he was about to board a flight home to Canada. He is currently in Egypt’s infamous Tora prison. No charges have been laid. (Amal Ahmed Albaz/Supplied)

The family of a Canadian detained last week in Egypt as he was about to board a flight home is asking Ottawa to get more involved in finding out what is going on.

Yasser Ahmed Albaz was taken into custody last Monday and is now reportedly being held in Cairo’s notorious Tora Prison complex.

The 51-year-old Albaz, an engineer who had been in Egypt on a business trip since December, has apparently not been charged.

Global Affairs Canada says it has provided consular services but has provided little other information.

Tora Prison, where Canadian Yasser Ahmed Albaz is currently being held (REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

Albaz’s daughter Amal Ahmed Albaz says her family was “torn apart” when her father was stopped at Cairo International Airport.

She says her father’s passport was seized as he was taken for questioning.

She says the family has no idea why Albaz, who runs an engineering firm in Oakville, Ontario, was detained.

“My father has no political affiliations,” she says.

“He’s not politically active whatsoever. His business is engineering: it has nothing to do with state security or anything like that.”

Originally from Egypt, the Albaz family has living as Canadian citizens for almost 20 years.

Amal Ahmed Albaz says the family regularly took business trips and vacations in Egypt.

Albaz’s arrest came just days after Amnesty International rebuked Egypt for “violating international law by denying family visits to scores of detainees” currently in prisons in Cairo and Alexandria.