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Canadian wife of man detained in Egypt pleads with Ottawa for help

Sarah Attia, wife of Khaled Al-Qazzaz, detained without charges in Egypt for the last 9 months, attends a news conference Tuesday April 29, 2014 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

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Sarah Attia, wife of Khaled Al-Qazzaz, detained without charges in Egypt for the last 9 months, attends a news conference Tuesday April 29, 2014 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA - A Canadian woman is pleading for federal help to convince Egypt to release her husband from captivity in a Cairo jail.

Sarah Attia says the health of her husband, Khaled Al-Qazzaz, is deteriorating.

Attia says she's growing more worried about his fate after word this week that more than 680 people with ties to ousted president Mohammed Morsi were added to a list of those facing death sentences.

Al-Qazzaz is a former aide to Morsi and a Canadian permanent resident.

He was arrested along with Morsi and eight other presidential aides early in July of last year when the Egyptian military removed Morsi from office.

While Al-Qazzaz has yet to be charged with any offence, Monday marked 300 days since his arrest.

Attia, who was born in Canada, was scheduled to meet Tuesday with Mississauga MP Stella Ambler.

Attia and Al-Qazzaz have four children ranging in age from one-and-a-half to eight years old. The two met while studying at the University of Toronto and moved to Egypt in 2005 to launch an educational project.

Al-Qazzaz campaigned for Morsi following the 2011 Egyptian uprising and was later appointed the former president's secretary on foreign relations.

"There is an increased concern that, any moment now, Khaled may witness trumped-up charges and, like others, face a death sentence as well," Attia told an Ottawa news conference.

She said she's aware that Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird recently raised Al-Qazzaz's case with the new Egyptian regime, but has no details of the discussions.

Two weeks ago Attia said she was planning to return to Cairo after raising awareness about her husband's plight.

But now she fears that she, too, could be arrested if she goes back, because media reports in Cairo have suggested she is paying reporters in Canada to promote sympathy for her case.

"I am ... concerned that I will be wrongfully persecuted for speaking out if I go back to check on my husband," Attia said.

"I have no confidence in the current state of affairs in Egypt."

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