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Canadian family urges Foreign Affairs Minister to stand up for democracy and human rights in Egypt

TORONTO, April 17, 2014 /CNW/ - A Canadian woman whose husband has been wrongly imprisoned in Egypt is pleading with Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister to help her family. Minister Baird leaves for Egypt today and will soon be meeting with the interim Egyptian government. Sarah Attia is urging Minister Baird to tell the Egyptian government that Canada will not tolerate this injustice any longer, and demand her husband's release.

Khaled Al-Qazzaz, a permanent resident of Canada and father of four young Canadian children, has been unlawfully imprisoned in Egypt for 289 days. He has done nothing wrong and has not been charged with any crime. He is being held in solitary confinement in the worst possible conditions in one of Egypt's most notorious prisons. At night, he is forced to sleep on the concrete floor of his cramped, bug-infested cell, which he is confined to more than 23 hours every single day. Khaled has been denied access to legal counsel and medical aid (even though he has a serious medical condition), and has no contact with the outside world. The United Nations says his detention is a clear violation of Egyptian and international law.

His wife, Mississauga-born Sarah Attia, has been tirelessly fighting for justice and freedom for her husband. "Khaled and I met when we were young students studying at the University of Toronto," said Sarah. "We were active in promoting equality and human rights in Canada, and around the world. It was my husband's passion and commitment to further democratic values in Egypt that took us there in 2005."

Sarah and the couple's children, who are also Canadian citizens, have been devastated since Khaled was ripped from their family. The family is asking the federal government, thus far silent on the issue, to put pressure on Egypt and demand Khaled's release.

Sarah, along with family, friends and a growing group of supporters, will not give up until Khaled is free. "I could have fallen apart, but I am a mother with four children and I need to stay strong for them. My children need to see their father again. I am fighting for my family."

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SOURCE Sarah Attia

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