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.”
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:
For more information:
Hassan Diab Support Committee