Canadian imprisoned in Egypt for years safely in Toronto

Mohammed el-Attar, a Canadian imprisoned in Egypt for nearly 15 years, landed safely at Toronto’s Pearson airport on Friday morning.

El-Attar, who is also known as Joseph, was arrested after arriving in Cairo for what he said was a holiday to see his family in January 2007.

He was charged with spying for Israel while in Canada and was quickly convicted.

Much of the case hinged on confessions that el-Attar and human rights groups have consistently claimed he was tortured. One of the last things el-Attar said publicly from his courtroom was that he had been electrocuted and forced to drink his own urine.

CBC News reported in 2015 that el-Attar was being held in a three by two meter cell in the notorious Tora prison during his time in Egypt.

He was born in Egypt but fled the country to Canada, claiming he was persecuted for his faith (born into a Muslim family, he converted to Christianity) and because he is gay.

In Canada, el-Attar worked as a bank teller.

In 2015, Amnesty International’s Alex Neve told CBC News that these factors made him extremely vulnerable in Egypt.

“There’s every reason in the world for the Canadian government to take this matter very seriously, and we’ve never seen any indication of that,” he said.

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