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 Urging Him to Speak Out and Bring Hassan Home

URGENT – URGENT
Hassan Diab Needs Your Help!

Please call PM Justin Trudeau on Wednesday/Thursday, December 20/21, 2017
Urging Him to Speak Out and Bring Hassan Home
Prime Minister’s Office:1-613-992-4211

French Prosecutors concede that there is credible evidence pointing to Hassan Diab’s Innocence, However, because of the political climate in France, they still want to proceed with a trial based on anonymous intelligence that French authorities received from a foreign service. This is despite the fact that the anonymous intelligence was discredited and withdrawn from the extradition hearing in Canada because of its extremely problematic nature.

Canadian government officials have been merely raising concerns about the delays in Hassan’s case. Neither Prime Minister Trudeau nor any other government official has asked for Hassan’s release or even objected to putting Hassan on trial based on anonymous intelligence. This is despite the fact that such a trial would be contrary to fundamental justice, contrary to our Charter, and a recipe for wrongful conviction.

Such a trial would not be allowed to happen to a Canadian citizen in Canada, much less when, according to the evidence gathered by the investigating judge, Hassan was not in France at the time of the 1980 crime.

Please, we urge you to call or write to PM Justin Trudeau urging him to speak out against putting Hassan Diab on trial based on discredited unsourced intelligence, and asking him to use the full force of his office to bring Hassan home. As you know, the Canadian government extradited Hassan to France in 2014, even though the evidence against him was known to be “suspect”, “illogical”, “convoluted”, and “very problematic” (in the words of the extradition judge). The Canadian government has a moral obligation to help Hassan and bring him home now.

On Wednesday or Thursday December 20 or 21, 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 machine.

Please leave a firm but polite message to this effect:

“Prime Minister Trudeau, I am calling to strongly urge you to speak out against putting Dr. Hassan Diab on trial in France based on secret and unsourced intelligence. I urge you to use the full force of your office to secure Hassan’s release and bring him back to his home in Canada.

As you know, the French investigative judges found “consistent evidence” that Hassan was not in France in 1980 when the hateful attack occurred. French prosecutors are conceding that there is credible evidence pointing to Dr. Diab’s innocence, yet they are asking for Hassan to be tried based on secret, unsourced intelligence that French authorities received from a foreign service. This same intelligence was discredited and withdrawn from the extradition hearing in Canada because of its extremely problematic nature.

The Government of Canada cannot condone a trial based on secret, unsourced intelligence, and must object to subjecting a Canadian citizen to such an unjust trial.

Please, uphold Canadian standards, do all you can to prevent Dr. Hassan Diab’s wrongful conviction, and bring Hassan back to his home and family in Canada.”
____________

PLEASE, DO NOT HESITATE TO PHONE EVERY DAY IF YOU FEEL SO INCLINED!
Also, please share this call for help with your friends and family.

Recent Articles on Dr. Hassan Diab’s Case:

With much appreciation,

Hassan Diab Support Committee

French Prosecutor Concedes Credible Evidence Points to Diab’s Innocence, but Asks for Trial

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

French Prosecutor Concedes Credible Evidence Points to Diab’s Innocence, but Asks for Trial; Relies on Unsourced Intelligence Despite Noting Flaws. Numerous High-Profile Canadians Urge Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Bring Diab Home.

14 December 2017, Ottawa – The French investigating judge has reissued a notice about the closing of the investigation in Dr. Hassan Diab’s case. He is expected to render a decision in the next few weeks about whether to order the discharge of Dr. Diab or refer his case to trial.

In written submissions to the investigating judge, the French prosecutor concedes that there is a credible body of evidence that points to Dr. Diab’s innocence and casts doubts on the allegations against him. Despite acknowledging its flaws, the prosecutor asks the investigating judge to put Dr. Diab on trial because of the secret, unsourced intelligence that French authorities received from a foreign service.

Dr. Diab’s lawyers in France, William Bourdon, Apolline Cagnat, and Amélie Lefebvre, noted that “It seems that the prosecutor – despite all the evidence – feels compelled to ask for trial. This approach is all the more objectionable, given the continued accumulation of evidence showing Hassan’s innocence, as the prosecutor has noted [in the written submissions] without, however, drawing the necessary conclusion. We await the only logical decision, which is the dismissal of the case.”

Don Bayne, Dr. Diab’s lawyer in Canada, pointed out that “the French prosecutor, while conceding that there is evidence that ‘casts doubt’ – i.e., proves innocence, such as the fact that numerous witnesses and documents prove that Dr. Diab was in Lebanon writing his university exams just as he has stated from the outset of this case; that the fingerprints and palm print of the suspect do not match Dr. Diab’s; and that the description of the suspect as a man aged 40-45 years clearly excludes Dr. Diab who was 26 years old at the time – nevertheless argues that they will rely on intelligence (secret, unsourced material from a foreign agency that has no proven reliability and amounts to nothing more than a bald allegation). Such a trial cannot be allowed to happen to a Canadian citizen, much less one who, according to the evidence gathered by the investigating judges, was not even in France at the time of the crime. A trial based on secret, unsourced non-evidence that cannot be challenged is contrary to fundamental justice, contrary to our Charter, and a recipe for wrongful conviction. The Government of Canada cannot condone a trial for Dr. Diab proceeding in such circumstances, and must object to a Canadian citizen being subjected to such a clearly unjust ‘trial’”.

In early December 2017, the Hassan Diab Support Committee sent an Open Letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging him to use the full force of his office to help Dr. Diab and bring him home. The Open Letter was signed by numerous high profile Canadians including lawyer and former politician Bob Rae; Members of Parliament Don Davies, Elizabeth May, and Kennedy Stewart; Senator Kim Pate; politician and broadcaster Stephen Lewis; politician and former Chair of the Broadbent Institute Ed Broadbent; filmmakers Atom Egoyan, Avi Lewis, and Sarah Polley; actress Geneviève Rochette; philosopher Charles Taylor; authors Gabriella Goliger, Benjamin Hertwig, Naomi Klein, Kyo Maclear, Yann Martel, Monia Mazigh, Heather Menzies, Yakov Rabkin, and Nino Ricci; Bernie Farber, human rights advocate and former Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Jewish Congress; Bob Goodfellow, former Executive Director, Amnesty International (Canada); Robyn Benson, National President of Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC); Larry Brown, President, National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE); Mark Hancock, National President, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE); Ken Neumann, National Director for Canada, United Steelworkers (USW); Mike Palecek, President, Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW-STTP); David Robinson, Executive Director, Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT); Larry Rousseau, Executive Vice President, Canadian Labour Congress (CLC); and many others.

On 8 December 2017, NDP Foreign Affairs Critic, Hélène Laverdière, wrote to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, urging the Canadian government to take immediate and effective action, saying “Since I last wrote to you about Mr. Diab’s case in June of 2017, Mr. Diab’s situation has changed for the worse, and it is essential that Canada improve its efforts on his behalf… It is time for Canada to intervene in this case at the highest level.”

Background

Dr. Diab is a Canadian citizen and sociology professor who lived in Ottawa. He was extradited from Canada to France in November 2014 in relation to a 1980 bombing outside a Paris synagogue that tragically killed four and injured dozens. The Canadian extradition judge found the evidence presented by French authorities to be “very problematic”, “illogical”, and “suspect”; yet he stated that he felt compelled under Canada’s extradition law to order Dr. Diab’s extradition.

The French investigating 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 bombing. 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 ordered Dr. Diab’s conditional release eight times in the last 18 months. However, each time the Paris prosecutor appealed, and the French Court of Appeal overturned the release order because of the climate in France.

Dr. Diab has been in detention in France for over three years despite overwhelming evidence of his innocence, and despite the eight release orders by investigating judges. Dr. Diab’s lawyers in France noted that “This is an absolutely exceptional situation… The Paris prosecutor’s obstinacy in this case is not judicial but rather political”.

Dr. Diab has always maintained his innocence and strongly condemned the 1980 crime. 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.”

The full text of the Open Letter to Prime Minister Trudeau, signed by over 800 individuals and organizations, is available at:

http://www.justiceforhassandiab.org/open-letter-to-prime-minister-trudeau-2017-10

For more information:

Hassan Diab Support Committee
diabsupport@gmail.com
http://www.justiceforhassandiab.org

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