Toronto Star Op-Ed
By Bernie M. Farber and Mira Sucharov
July 10, 2017
“The evidence against Diab is shaky at best. It appeared to rest on handwriting analyses that experts had discredited. The French authorities had tried to include “secret intelligence” from unidentified sources — evidence that Canadian authorities threw out. There is evidence that Diab was in Lebanon, not Paris, on the day of the attack. Fingerprints at the scene of the crime don’t seem to match those of Diab.
Robert Maranger, the Ontario Superior Court judge who agreed to the extradition, even admitted that ‘the prospects of conviction in the context of a fair trial seem unlikely.’
Nine years later, with absolutely no movement in sight, it is clear that Hassan Diab is not receiving justice by Canadian standards. This must change.
It is time for Canadian authorities to insist that France take proper judicial action or send him home. By forcing Diab into legal purgatory, Canada is seriously undermining its commitment to due process — one of the bedrock responsibilities of a democratic society to its citizens…”
“Justin Trudeau once proclaimed that ‘A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.’ But if the Canadian’s name is Hassan Diab, the government would prefer not to speak up. That’s no longer good enough…
“Amnesty, which believes his detention contravenes human rights norms, has written to Trudeau, Freeland and Justice Minister Jody WilsonRaybould asking them to try to secure Diab’s release on bail…
“[T]he legal evidence that he committed one seems to be slowly unravelling and the time being taken by the French to figure things out is unconscionable…
“Canada can do better than maintain a shy silence. Trudeau must insist on concrete action one way or another from France. In democratic countries, we don’t hold people in jail indefinitely without trial or freedom.”
Amnesty International calls Dr. Hassan Diab’s continued imprisonment “a violation of international human rights norms”. Additional independent witnesses and official documents further confirm Diab not in France at time of 1980 Paris bombing.
On Wednesday, June 21, 2017, Amnesty International, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), and the Hassan Diab Support Committee held a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, urging the Canadian government to intervene with the French authorities to release Canadian citizen Dr. Hassan Diab on bail without delay.
Alex Neve, the Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada stated that “Canada cannot casually stand by while the rights of a Canadian citizen continue to be so blatantly violated over what has now become an agonizingly prolonged period of time – violated by an ally from whom we should expect and demand so much better. Two and a half years is far too long for anyone’s rights to be violated so cavalierly. When it involves a Canadian citizen, the Canadian government must act, and they must act now.”
Don Bayne, Hassan Diab’s Canadian lawyer said, “There is overwhelming evidence that an innocent man is being detained for an extensive and arbitrary period of time. Hassan has always stated that he is fully innocent. French investigators now say the evidence confirms his innocence. He has become in effect a political prisoner of the terror trauma in France [and French authorities] who do not want to look soft on terror.”
Chantal Vallerand spoke on behalf of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, saying “CAUT is the national voice of 70,000 academic and general staff at over 120 universities and colleges across Canada. We’ve been gravely concerned by the violations of Hassan Diab’s civil liberties and human rights. We are today urging the government of Canada to intervene with French authorities in order to secure Dr. Diab’s release on bail. The Canadian government has a duty to protect the rights of its citizens and to uphold international human rights.”
The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) echoed similar calls for the Canadian government to bring Diab home.
In a significant development that solidifies Diab’s innocence, six independent witnesses testified that Diab was a student in Beirut in September and October 1980, and that he was studying for the exams and wrote and passed them at that time. This was confirmed by official documents from the university where Diab studied.
In a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, and Parliamentary Secretary Omar Alghabra, Amnesty Canada expressed alarm at the continued detention of Mr. Diab and concern at the “apparently arbitrary decisions to continue to block Mr. Diab’s release on bail”. It added that “Mr. Diab’s continuing detention in these circumstances contravenes France’s obligations under European and international human rights norms. The French Section of Amnesty International has raised our concerns about Mr. Diab’s case directly with the French government. Amnesty International urges the Canadian government to intervene with French authorities as well. We specifically urge that the Canadian government advocate for Hassan Diab’s release on bail without any further delay.”
Diab was extradited from Canada to France in November 2014 in connection with a 1980 bombing outside a synagogue in Paris. He has been held in pre-trial detention in France for over 2 ½ years. French investigating judges have delivered so far 6 judicial orders that Diab be released on bail, stating that there is “consistent evidence” that Diab was not in France at the time of the 1980 Paris attack. However, each time the prosecutor appealed and the French Court of Appeal quashed the release orders because of the political climate in France.
June 21st marks Dr. Hassan Diab’s third summer incarcerated in France away from his family in Ottawa, Canada. We have an important, indeed urgent, request of you…
On Wednesday June 21st, please telephone Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and ask him to intervene with the French government and request Hassan’s release and return to his home in Canada.
We need to have as many of these calls as possible from different parts of the country on the same day to amplify our message. We also suggest that you ask a friend to call. You and your friend can also call the Prime Minister’s constituency office.
It is possible that you will not get through to an assistant, but only to an answering machine or service. That’s OK. Please leave a message in your own words using the text below as template. It is best to call during business hours. In addition to phoning, you may also consider sending a fax if you have access to a fax machine.
Mr. Justin Trudeau, House of Commons:
Phone: 1 (613) 992-4211
Fax: 1 (613) 941-6900
Template Message: “Hello. My name is ______________. I am a supporter of Justice for Dr. Hassan Diab and I am calling to ask why the Canadian government and Prime Minister Trudeau have not intervened to secure Hassan Diab’s release. Hassan has been in prison in France for almost three years, despite the fact that there is consistent evidence that he is innocent. Three different French judges have ordered his release six times, yet he remains in prison. This is a violation of Hassan’s rights, and we insist that the Prime Minister intervene with the new French government and ask for Hassan Diab’s immediate return to Canada. To do less dishonors Canada and Canadians.
I look forward to your response. You can call me personally at ______________.”
Thank you for your support in the struggle to free Dr. Hassan Diab.