Letter to
Organizations and Individuals in France, October 2013


In October 2013, the Hassan Diab Support Committee sent the following letter to civil society organisations and individual in France. The letter seeks to inform them about important facts in Dr. Diab’s case, and to underscore the issues of fairness, due process, and human rights at stake in Hassan’s case.

“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.
I have always been opposed to bigotry and violence.”

Dr. Hassan Diab, speaking at a press conference in Ottawa, Canada

We are writing to ask for your help in publicizing the plight of Dr. Hassan Diab, a university professor and Canadian citizen of Lebanese descent who lives in Ottawa, Canada [1]. French authorities are seeking Dr. Diab’s extradition from Canada for questioning in relation to an attack near a Paris synagogue on Rue Copernic in 1980. The extradition request is based on intelligence from unknown sources and handwriting analysis that has been discredited by internationally recognized handwriting experts from Europe and North America. Even though Dr. Diab has not been charged with any crime, he has been imprisoned or living under severe bail conditions since 2008.

Dr. Diab is innocent of the crime. He was not in France at the time of the Rue Copernic bombing. His finger prints and palm prints do not match those of the suspect. [2] Hassan has always been opposed to bigotry and violence. He has no criminal record anywhere in the world. He is the victim of mistaken identity.


In November 2008, Dr. Diab was arrested by Canadian police at the request of French authorities. In June 2011, after a lengthy extradition hearing, the Canadian judge decided to commit Dr. Diab to extradition. In his ruling, the judge described the evidence against Hassan as “very problematic,” “suspect,” and “weak”. He said that “the prospects of conviction in the context of a fair trial seem unlikely”, but stated that his interpretation of Canada’s extradition law left him no choice but to commit Hassan to extradition. [3] The case against Hassan is so flimsy that it does not meet Canadian standards of evidence and would never get to the trial stage in Canada.

Several months after the judge’s decision, French authorities revealed that the case is still at the evidence-gathering stage and that no decision has been made by them whether or not to send Dr. Diab’s case to trial. Rather, French investigators are seeking him for investigation purposes only. Despite this revelation, in April 2012, the Canadian Minister of Justice signed an order surrendering Hassan for extradition. [2]

An appeal of Dr. Diab’s extradition will be heard by the Ontario Court of Appeal in November 2013. In the meantime, Hassan continues to live under house arrest and very strict bail conditions that include having to pay around $2,000 per month for a GPS device he must wear at all times. [4]

Why does the case against Dr. Diab lack merit?

Secret Intelligence Information

The case against Dr. Diab is anchored in secret information from unknown sources. No one, not even the French juge d’instruction, knows the sources of this information. Human Rights Watch has criticized French counter-terrorism courts for relying on secret intelligence from countries known to routinely use torture. [5, 6]

In testimony at Dr. Diab’s extradition hearing, a Toronto University law professor and anti-terrorism expert expressed concern that French investigators have developed “tunnel vision” and cherry-picked intelligence to fit their theory of the case while ignoring other intelligence that exonerates Hassan. The expert warned that it would be dangerous to deprive Hassan of his liberty by relying on secret, unsourced intelligence that cannot be tested or challenged in a court of law. [7]

Flawed Handwriting Analysis

The only piece of evidence on which the Canadian extradition judge based his committal order was a report by a French handwriting analyst. The report compared Dr. Diab’s handwriting to five words written on a Paris hotel registration card in 1980. During the extradition hearing, three world-renowned handwriting experts from Europe and North America showed that the French analyst employed a fundamentally flawed methodology that resulted in totally unreliable conclusions. The Canadian extradition judge himself wrote that he found the report to be “very problematic”, “very convoluted”, “very confusing”, and “with conclusions that are suspect”. [2] Recently, two additional handwriting experts from Europe testified that the French handwriting analysis is defective and unreliable.

It is important to note that this flawed handwriting report came after two previous reports submitted by French investigators. Both of those reports concluded there is a match between Dr. Diab’s handwriting and that of the suspect, even though the samples used in the handwriting analysis were not written by Dr. Diab but were written by another person. The reports were withdrawn once defence experts uncovered the fundamental error that the samples used in the comparison were not written by Dr. Diab. [2]

The case of Dr. Hassan Diab is strikingly reminiscent of the notorious Dreyfus Affair that took place in France at the end of the 19th century. Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish infantry officer, was sentenced to life in prison based on unsourced intelligence and deeply flawed handwriting analysis. He received two trials and was twice wrongly convicted. Thanks to the work of many supporters inside and outside of France, he was ultimately exonerated.

Why is Dr. Diab fighting extradition?

If extradited to France, Dr. Diab will be torn from his family to languish in prison, possibly for years, while the French authorities continue a 33-year old investigation of a crime he did not commit.

Experts on France’s legal system have informed Dr. Diab that his ability to demonstrate the fatal flaws in France’s handwriting analysis and to challenge the intelligence in the dossier will be very limited. French anti-terrorism trial courts have a documented track record of accepting secret intelligence as evidence, even when there is a real risk it is the product of torture. [5, 6]

Moreover, it will be difficult for Hassan to bring evidence in his own defence (such as the fact that his finger prints and palm prints do not match those of the suspect), because the trial court will rely on evidence placed in the dossier by the juge d’instruction. [8]

Hassan has repeatedly affirmed that he is willing to answer questions from French authorities in Canada. He has also offered to take a lie detector test, but there has been no response to both offers. [9]

Widespread Community Support

We are asking for your help to publicize Dr. Hassan Diab’s plight and make the French public aware of the unjust case against him. Please share this letter with organizations and individuals that you believe should know about Dr. Diab’s case.

Prominent civil society organizations are on record expressing their concerns about Dr. Diab’s case and the abusive and oppressive extradition process that he is being subjected to. Organizations that have expressed their concerns include:

  • Amnesty International
  • British Columbia Civil Liberties Association
  • Canadian Association of University Teachers
  • Canadian Civil Liberties Association
  • Canadian Union of Postal Workers
  • Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice
  • Civil Liberties Association – National Capital Region
  • Comité Justice Sociale des Soeurs Auxiliatrices
  • Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada
  • European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control
  • International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group
  • Ligue des droits et libertés
  • National Union of Public and General Employees
  • Public Service Alliance of Canada

In addition, thousands of Canadians have signed petitions and written to their Members of Parliament and the Canadian Minister of Justice in support of Dr. Diab. They have also sent letters to the media and participated in demonstrations to voice their concerns about the injustices in Hassan’s case and to urge reform of Canada’s extradition law which allows citizens to be handed over to other countries based on flimsy evidence that does not meet Canadian standards of evidence.

Unfortunately, the French public seems to be largely unaware of the basic facts in Dr. Diab’s case, including those cited in this letter.

Justice in the Rue Copernic case must be achieved, but prosecution founded on unsourced secret intelligence and shoddy handwriting analysis cannot lead to justice.

We must make sure that the real perpetrators of the crime are brought to justice. Making an innocent man pay for a crime he did not commit will only further the tragedy.

For more information about Dr. Diab’s case, please contact:

Hassan Diab Support Committee

October 2013


[1] Justice for Hassan Diab website.

[2] “Diab lawyer slams extradition order as ‘dangerous new low’”, The Ottawa Citizen, April 13, 2012.

[3] “The complex case of Hassan Diab”, The Ottawa Citizen, June 10, 2011.

[4] “Diab committed for extradition in Paris synagogue bombing case”, The Ottawa Citizen, June 7, 2011.

[5] “Preempting Justice: Counterterrorism Laws and Procedures in France”, Human Rights Watch, 2008.

[6] “No Questions Asked: Intelligence Cooperation with Countries that Torture”, Human Rights Watch, 2010.

[7] “Terrorism evidence against former Ottawa professor ‘unreliable,’ court hears”, The Ottawa Citizen, November 24, 2010.

[8] “The Investigation and Prosecution of Terrorist Suspects in France”, by Jacqueline Hodgson, School of Law, University of Warwick, 2006.

[9] “Ottawa prof offered to take lie-detector test”, The Windsor Star, August 6, 2011.