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The New Arab Staff

Life of Canadian detained in Egypt without charge 'hanging by a thread'

Albaz has been held without charge since February 2019 [Twitter]

Date of publication: 23 June, 2020

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The family of Yasser Ahmed Albaz suspect he is suffering from the Covid-19 disease, and fear it could kill him.
The family of a Canadian citizen held without charge in Egypt are calling on the Ottawa government to help with his transfer to a hospital as he grapples with a suspected coronavirus infection.

Yasser Ahmed Albaz, 52, has been held in Cairo's feared Tora prison since February last year, when he was detained at the airport on his way home.

Albaz is currently fighting pneumonia, which his family suspect is a symptom of a serious Covid-19 infection as the novel coronavirus reportedly runs rampant in the cramped and unsanitary conditions of the Egypt's notorious detention facilities.

Appeals for the Canadian government to assist in his transfer from the prison to a private hospital have gone unanswered, his daughter told local media.

"I haven't heard back from the government and haven't received acknowledgment and it's very concerning because the urgency has escalated," Amal Ahmed Albaz told CTV News Toronto on Monday. "I have been saying his life is on the line, but now it's hanging by a thread."

Her father, who displays "all the Covid-19 symptoms", has several risk factors for the potentially deadly illness, including high blood pressure.

Canadian doctors who the family spoke with about Albaz's condition said he could die if he did not receive proper medical treatment, she said.

"We need the government to everything they can to get him to a private a hospital. A Canadian is dying in an Egyptian prison and our Canadian government needs to get him to a hospital," Amal said. 

"His life is in Canada, he is [Prime Minister] Justin Trudeau's responsibility. If something happens to him it's on our government."

"Our government must bring him home and until they do that they must make sure that he's getting treatment in a private hospital in Egypt. There's not a second to lose because my father might not get that second," she added.

Albaz, who moved to Canada more than 20 years ago, has not been charged with any crime. His family insist he is not guilty of any wrongdoing and should be released immediately.

In Egypt, prisoners can be held for up to two years in pre-trial detention without charge. Rights activist say the regime abuses the law to target government critics.

Relatives of detainees have raised concerns that authorities have done little to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus in Tora prison, where as many as 40 people are held in one cell.

Human Rights Watch has described inadequate medical care and sanitation in Egyptian prisons as the norm. 

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