Why Hassan Diab’s ongoing incarceration in France is Canada’s ‘Dreyfus Affair’

Ottawa Citizen Op-Ed
By Heather Menzies, November 27, 2017

“The Hassan Diab case is beginning to reek of the late 19th-century ‘Dreyfus Affair’ now that a fourth French judge’s order for Diab’s release for lack of evidence has been quashed at a higher level, and this Canadian academic and father of two small children begins his fourth year in solitary confinement in a French prison, without charge or trial.

Moreover, the reek of a gross miscarriage of justice, which the term “Dreyfus Affair” connotes, implicates Canada and what Canadians stand for as much as it does France and the values defining that society…

I am no Zola. But over the course of my career as a writer, I think I have gained a reputation for integrity. From my first book, an oral history of Canada during the 1970s’ national unity crisis, I have also engaged myself in the narrative of values, rights and responsibilities by which we like to define ourselves as a country. Every breach of these – from the residential school policy to the internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War to, more recently, the treatment of Maher Arar, Omar Khadr and, now, Hassan Diab – challenges Canadians.

If each of these injustices is not addressed and rectified, it weakens our credibility outwardly and our self-confidence inwardly. As Zola wrote in his famous letter, letting politics trump principles ‘will destroy a freedom-loving France.’

I therefore salute those many in the Canadian media who have been keeping this case in the public eye. And I join my voice with fellow writers such as Naomi Klein and Yann Martel in calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to intervene and bring Diab home now! Otherwise, Mr. Trudeau, you force me and all other Canadians to be implicated in a 21st-century repetition of the terrible Dreyfus affair.”

Read the full Op-Ed:

http://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/columnists/menzies-why-hassan-diabs-ongoing-incarceration-in-france-is-canadas-dreyfus-affair

Heather Menzies is a two-time winner of the Ottawa Book Award, an adjunct professor at Carleton University and a member of the Order of Canada.

Please Call PM Trudeau
on Wednesday November 29, 2017
to Bring Hassan Home

URGENT – URGENT

Dr. Hassan Diab Needs Your Help now!

Please call Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday, November 29, 2017
to Get Him to Intervene Personally and Immediately
to Bring Hassan Home

Prime Minister’s Office:1-613-992-4211

Hassan Diab, an innocent Canadian citizen, has been imprisoned abroad for over three years for a crime he did not commit. Hassan’s handwriting, physical descriptions, fingerprints, and palm print do not match those of the suspect. Moreover, the French investigating judges have repeatedly stated that there is “consistent evidence” that Hassan was in Beirut, and not Paris, at the time of the 1980 bombing for which he is under investigation.

As a result, four different French judges have ordered Hassan’s conditional release eight times in the last 18 months. However, each time the prosecutor appealed, and all release orders have been overturned. It is abundantly clear that the decision to hold Hassan in prison is political: Hassan is in effect a Canadian political prisoner in a French prison.

In this context and despite the findings of the French investigative judges, we fear that Hassan will continue to be railroaded. All attempts in Canada and France to have him released have failed, and the only avenue left is for Prime Minister Trudeau to intervene directly and personally with President Macron of France to have Hassan released and brought back to Canada. Otherwise, Hassan will spend the rest of his life and die in a French prison cell despite documented evidence of his innocence.

On Wednesday November 29, please call Prime Minister Trudeau’s office at 1-613-992-4211, or Fax him at 1-613–941-6900. You may also call his constituency office (Papineau, Quebec) at 1-514-277-6020.

When you call, please be courteous, say good morning (or good afternoon, etc.) and give your name and where you are calling from. It is likely you will be talking to an answering service. Please leave a firm but polite message to this effect:

“I am calling to strongly urge Prime Minister Trudeau to intervene personally, directly, and immediately by asking President Macron to secure Hassan Diab’s release and facilitate his return to Canada. Hassan has been in prison for over three years, despite the fact that there is consistent evidence that he is innocent. Four different French judges have ordered his release eight times, yet he remains in prison in France. This is a violation of Hassan’s fundamental rights, and I want them restored by having him returned to his home and family in Canada.”

Please share this call for help with your friends and family.

With much appreciation,

Hassan Diab Support Committee
diabsupport@gmail.com

Eighth Release Order Overturned;
High-Profile Canadians Urge PM Trudeau to Bring Hassan Home

In a deeply disappointing and stunning move, the French Court of Appeal quashed – for the eighth time – a release order for Dr. Hassan Diab. Hassan has been in pre-trial detention for three years, despite overwhelming evidence of his innocence.

The French investigative judges in charge of the case found that there is “consistent evidence” that Hassan was not in France at the time of the 1980 Paris bombing outside a Paris synagogue that tragically killed four and injured dozens. Official documents as well as several witnesses confirmed that Dr. Diab was studying and taking his university exams in Lebanon at that time. Four French judges have repeatedly ordered his conditional release. However, each time the Paris prosecutor filed an appeal, and the French Court of Appeal overturned the release decision because of the climate in France.

Hassan’s lawyers in France, William Bourdon, Apolline Cagnat, and Amélie Lefebvre, remarked that “this is an absolutely exceptional situation: Four judges have decided eight times that Dr. Diab should be released. The Paris prosecutor’s obstinacy in this case is not judicial but rather political”.

Hassan’s wife, Carleton University professor Rania Tfaily, said, “Even though this was the eighth time Hassan’s release order was overturned, I was really shocked and stunned, not knowing if this was reality, whether we live in an alternate world. It’s like an alternate world where truth, evidence, logic, and rationality don’t count.”

Numerous high-profile Canadians have signed an Open Letter urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to use the full force of his office to bring Hassan home. These individuals include lawyer and former politician Bob Rae; Members of Parliament Don Davies, Elizabeth May, and Kennedy Stewart; politician and broadcaster Stephen Lewis; filmmakers Atom Egoyan, Avi Lewis, and Sarah Polley; authors Naomi Klein, Yann Martel, Monia Mazigh, and Nino Ricci.

Hassan was extradited from Canada to France in November 2014, even though the Canadian extradition judge found the evidence presented by French authorities to be “very problematic”, “illogical”, and “suspect”. The judge stated that he felt compelled under Canada’s extradition law to order Dr. Diab’s extradition.

Hassan has always maintained his innocence and strongly condemned the attack. He has a lifelong record of opposition to bigotry and discrimination, as attested by long-time friends and colleagues. He has unequivocally stated that “my life has been turned upside down because of unfounded allegations and suspicions. I am innocent of the accusations against me. I have never engaged in terrorism. I have never participated in any terrorist attacks. I am not an anti-Semite.”

Recently, Dr. Diab was informed that officials of a foreign state met with the French investigative judges in late September offering their help in getting him charged instead of freed and returned to Canada. This latest development increased serious and legitimate fears that political pressure might interfere with the investigations and jeopardize Dr. Diab’s right to fair and independent justice.

Don Bayne, Dr. Diab’s lawyer in Canada, stated that “Dr. Diab has been pleading for help from the Canadian government in his Kafkaesque situation as he remains imprisoned despite evidence of his innocence. Canada has been timid to act to aid this unjustly detained Canadian, while a foreign state is taking direct action seeking to weigh in on a procedure conducted by French judicial authorities. Canada’s voice of protest must be registered at the highest level of our government. The duty of a government is protection of its citizens. Prime Minister Trudeau must demand Dr. Diab’s freedom and return to Canada. Will the Canadian government stand idly by as the injustices in this case compound?”

Open Letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:
http://www.justiceforhassandiab.org/open-letter-to-prime-minister-trudeau-2017-10

Fourth French Judge Orders
Dr. Hassan Diab Released on Bail –
Appeal Court Decides on November 14

On November 6, a fourth French judge ordered the release of Canadian Professor Dr. Hassan Diab on bail from a Paris prison where he has been behind bars for three years. This marks the eighth release order of Dr. Diab by four different French judges; but, as on seven prior occasions, the Paris prosecutor immediately filed an appeal. Dr. Diab is set to be released on bail on November 14, unless the French Court of Appeal overturns the release decision.

Dr. Diab’s lawyers in France, William Bourdon, Apolline Cagnat, and Amélie Lefebvre, remarked that “this is an absolutely exceptional situation: Four judges have decided eight times that Dr. Diab should be released. The Paris prosecutor’s obstinacy in this case is not judicial but rather political”.

Dr. Diab was extradited from Canada to France in November 2014, even though the Canadian extradition judge found the evidence presented by French authorities to be “very problematic”, “illogical”, and “suspect”. The judge stated that he felt compelled under Canada’s extradition law to order Dr. Diab’s extradition.

Dr. Diab has been in pre-trial detention in France for three years. The investigative judges in charge of the case found that there is “consistent evidence” that Dr. Diab was not in France at the time of the 1980 Paris bombing outside a Paris synagogue that tragically killed four and injured dozens. Official documents as well as several witnesses confirmed that Dr. Diab was studying and taking his university exams in Lebanon at that time. Four French judges have repeatedly ordered his conditional release. However, the French Court of Appeal quashed all release orders following the prosecutor’s appeals, notably because of the climate in France.

On July 28, 2017, the French investigative judges issued a notice about the end of investigations in Dr. Diab’s case. However, their final decision regarding whether to release Dr. Diab or refer him to trial was delayed because the French prosecutor failed to submit arguments within one month, as stipulated in the French Criminal Procedure Code. To this day, no such submission has been filed.

Dr. Diab has strongly condemned the crime, and steadfastly maintained his innocence. He has a lifelong record of opposition to all forms of bigotry, anti-Semitism, and violence, as attested by longtime friends, colleagues, and everyone who knows him. Dr. Diab’s fingerprints, palm prints, physical description, and handwriting do not match those of the suspect. He had unequivocally stated that “my life has been turned upside down because of unfounded allegations and suspicions. I am innocent of the accusations against me. I have never engaged in terrorism. I have never participated in any terrorist attacks. I am not an anti-Semite.”

Don Bayne, Dr. Diab’s lawyer in Canada, stated that “Dr. Diab has been pleading for help from the Canadian government in his Kafkaesque situation as he remains imprisoned despite evidence of his innocence. Canada’s voice of protest must be registered at the highest level of our government. The duty of a government is protection of its citizens. Prime Minister Trudeau must demand Dr. Diab’s freedom and return to Canada. Will the Canadian government stand idly by as the injustices in this case compound?”

Hassan Diab Still in Legal Limbo as He Approaches His Fourth Year in a French Prison

Dr. Hassan Diab, the Canadian citizen and sociology professor who was unjustly extradited to France in November 2014, approaches his fourth year of imprisonment in France, despite his innocence.

In July 2017, the French investigative judge closed his investigations into the case after finding that there is “consistent evidence” that Dr. Diab was not in France at the time of the 1980 bombing near a Paris Synagogue. However, prosecutors have yet to respond despite the normal practice of defence and prosecution responding within 30-days of the closing of the investigation. Hassan’s lawyers responded within 30 days, urging Hassan’s release.

Hassan’s French lawyer, William Bourdon, noted that “though there is no legal sanction to the non-observance of the delays that apply once the investigations are finished, we are obviously very disappointed that the prosecutor does not comply with them in this case where Hassan Diab has consistently proclaimed his innocence and consistent evidence of his innocence was collected during the investigations. Hassan remains in prison in France where he has now spent almost three years despite repetitive release orders constantly overturned by the Court of Appeal.”

Hassan’s Canadian lawyer, Donald Bayne, remarked, “This is yet another manifestation of the mounting injustices that have plagued this case and victimized Dr. Diab – who is this century’s Dreyfus – for the past 8 years. Surely the great Republic of France will put an end to injustice, will listen to the investigating judge who has stated that there is consistent and corroborated evidence of Dr. Diab’s innocence.”

On September 21, MP Don Davies presented a Parliamentary petition signed by thousands of Canadians urging the Canadian government to bring Hassan home.

In addition, an Open Letter signed by hundreds of Hassan’s supporters was sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould urging them to put an end to Dr. Diab’s Kafkaesque situation.

Alex Neve, the Secretary General of Amnesty International, stated that “this further delay, attributable to the French prosecutor, is one more unconscionable injustice. At a minimum Mr. Diab must be released on bail while the case proceeds, and the Canadian government must – at senior levels – insist that it happens without any further delay.”

Dr. Diab has strongly condemned the crime, and steadfastly maintained his innocence. He has a lifelong record of opposition to all forms of bigotry, anti-Semitism, and violence, as attested by longtime friends, colleagues, and everyone who knows him. Dr. Diab’s fingerprints, palm prints, physical description, and handwriting do not match those of the suspect. Since his ordeal began in 2008, Dr. Diab has been imprisoned or under very strict bail conditions for almost nine years.

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