The family of a Canadian man detained in Egypt is calling for the Canadian government to intervene at the highest levels after he was taken from an airport in Cairo last week.
Yasser Ahmed Albaz, 51, of Oakville was returning home from a business trip on Family Day when he was stopped at the Cairo International Airport and his passport confiscated, according to a press release sent by his daughter, Amal Ahmed Albaz.
“This is clearly a misunderstanding,” she told the Star. “My father was there on business. He has no political affiliations and he’s not active politically.”
According to the release, Ahmed Albaz’s family called the Global Affairs Canada emergency hotline within hours of his disappearance to open a case. Richard Walker, a spokesperson with Global Affairs, confirmed that Global Affairs is aware that a Canadian citizen was detained in Egypt.
“Consular services are being provided and officials are in contact with local authorities,” said Walker, adding that due to the provisions of the Privacy Act no further information could be disclosed.
According to his daughter, the last messages received from her father were sent via WhatsApp, one around 10 p.m. EST Monday telling his family he loved them, and another some time later to a friend in Egypt confirming he had been taken by Egypt’s state security.
On Saturday, his family’s Egyptian lawyer and the Canadian Embassy were notified that he had appeared at the Egyptian state security prosecutor’s office, according to the release, adding lawyers have confirmed he has not been charged, but he will continue to be held for additional questioning on Tuesday.
As of Sunday, Amal said the family had been informed her father had been transported to Tora Prison. She said they are concerned for his well-being due to the prison’s notoriety for harsh conditions.
She said members of the family’s community in Oakville have been quick to help, reaching out to their MPs to draw more attention to the issue. While Amal says she and her family are appreciative of the Canadian government’s involvement so far, more pressure is needed to get her father back safely.
“It’s ironic that on Family Day, the day that families are supposed to come together, my family was torn apart,” Amal told the Star.
“We need our foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, and our prime minister, Justin Trudeau, to intervene,” she said. “They need to pick up the phone today. He needs to come home today.”
Rhianna Jackson-Kelso is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @RhiannaJK