For Immediate Release
12 January 2018, Ottawa – Today, Judges Jean-Marc Herbaut and Richard Foltzer (“Juges d’instruction anti-terroristes”) dismissed the allegations against Dr. Hassan Diab and ordered his immediate release from detention. An overwhelming body of evidence shows Dr. Diab cannot have been in France in 1980 when the attack was perpetrated, as many elements confirm he was in Beirut during that period of time. The decision also notably underlines the numerous contradictions and misstatements contained in the intelligence which cast serious doubts about their reliability, as well as the fact that Dr. Diab’s handwriting, fingerprints, palm prints, physical description, and age do not match those of the suspect identified in 1980.
After more than three years in solitary confinement in a French prison, Dr. Diab is set to be released from detention today.
Dr. Diab’s lawyers in France, William Bourdon, Apolline Cagnat, and Amélie Lefebvre, stated that “This decision in such a serious terrorism case is exceptional. It must remind us that the acknowledgement of a suspect’s innocence in a terrorism case is always a long road but can be obtained with relentless work. The decision is founded on the demonstration of the impossibility to attribute to Hassan Diab any responsibility in the attack, as we have not ceased to claim. The respect owed to the victims and their legitimate need for justice must not be confused with the prosecutor’s obstinacy whose potential appeal would be completely contrary to the law and facts.”
Don Bayne, Dr. Diab’s lawyer in Canada, remarked, “We’re elated, relieved and thankful. Thankful to the French judges for their wisdom and courage to buck political and social pressure to make a completely just decision, something that we believe the courts in Canada failed to do at every level. Thankful that Dr. Diab’s wife, Rania Tfaily, led the fight for justice with such dignity and perseverance. Thankful to Minister Freeland, Sam Moyer, Maria Lamani, and others at Global Affairs Canada for their genuine and impressive support to a Canadian who never should have been extradited. And thankful for the efforts of the wonderful Canadians who make up the Hassan Diab Support Committee. We would add this – now is the time for the Justice Minister, indeed the Prime Minister, to order a complete review of the Extradition Act and procedures that led to years of injustice for an innocent Canadian. How could Canada have extradited a Canadian to France when France never, never had a case against Dr. Diab fit to go to trial? How? Because of Canada’s Extradition Act, of the procedures it enables to strip Canadians of liberty unjustly. This Canadian was extradited on overwhelmingly unreliable evidence yet every Canadian court allowed this to happen. So while we are thankful and relieved that justice has been served, we must ensure the system is corrected so that no other Canadian experiences what Dr. Diab has.”
Dr. Hassan Diab is a Canadian citizen and sociology professor who lived in Ottawa. He was extradited from Canada to France in November 2014 even though the Canadian extradition judge Robert Maranger described the evidence presented against Dr. Hassan Diab as “very problematic”, “convoluted”, “illogical”, and “suspect”. However, given the low threshold of evidence in Canada’s extradition law, the judge felt compelled to order Hassan Diab’s extradition in November 2014.
Four French judges have ordered Dr. Diab’s conditional release eight times in the last 20 months, most recently in November 2017. However, each time the Paris prosecutor appealed, and the French Court of Appeal overturned the release orders due to the political climate in France.
Dr. Diab has a lifelong record of opposition to bigotry and discrimination, as attested by family, long-time friends, and colleagues. He has always maintained his innocence and strongly condemned the 1980 crime. 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.”
Dr. Diab has the support of thousands of individuals and organisations in Canada and around the world.