Dr. Hassan Diab is fighting extradition to France for his alleged involvement in a bombing in Paris in 1980 – a crime he did not commit. Dr. Diab’s fingerprints, palm prints, and other physical characteristics do not match those of the suspect. Yet, in June 2011, a Canadian extradition judge decided to commit Hassan to extradition based on handwriting analysis that the judge himself described as “problematic”, “very confusing”, and with “conclusions that are suspect”.
In his judgment the judge wrote that while he felt obliged under Ontario’s interpretation of extradition law to commit Dr. Diab, he found the French evidence was weak and below the standard necessary to produce a conviction in a Canadian court.
In April 2012, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson signed an order surrendering Dr. Hassan Diab to France, despite new information emanating from French officials stating that Dr. Diab is wanted in France for mere questioning, and that no decision has been made about whether to try Dr. Diab. Mr. Donald Bayne, Hassan’s lawyer, noted that Canada’s Extradition Act does not allow the Justice Minister to surrender Canadian citizens to other countries for mere questioning and to languish in jail for years without trial.
The case against Dr. Diab is anchored in unsourced, anonymous intelligence assertions that cannot be tested in a court of law. If extradited, Hassan will not receive a fair trial in France’s counter-terrorism courts. These courts place severe limitations on the ability of Hassan’s defence to challenge the handwriting analysis, and allow the use of unsourced, secret intelligence that may be the product of torture.
Hassan is in a Catch-22 situation. In Canada, the “evidence” used against him is presumed reliable, even though it does not meet Canadian standards of evidence. At trial in France, defence evidence will not receive full and fair consideration, because it was furnished by the defence rather than by the investigating magistrate.
Hassan’s case is a wake-up call for all of us. The standard for extradition is so low that Canada hands people over to other countries based on evidence that is not accepted in a Canadian court. Moreover, France does not extradite its own citizens, which makes the extradition treaty between Canada and France dangerously unbalanced.
We must demand that Canadian standards of evidence apply to extradition cases, and that Canada not extradite its citizens to countries that allow secret intelligence — including intelligence obtained from torture — to be used as evidence.
Hassan is appealing both the extradition judge’s committal order and the Justice Minister’s surrender order. He continues to live under very strict bail conditions and is saddled with hefty legal fees, as well as paying $2,000 per month for the GPS monitoring he is required to wear.
How You Can Help
Contact your Canadian Member of Parliament (MP) about Hassan’s plight and urge him/her to reform Canada’s unfair extradition law.
- If you live in Canada, write to the MP for your riding. Please share your letter with Mr. Paul Dewar, the MP for Hassan’s riding (Ottawa Centre).
- If you live outside Canada, write to Mr. Paul Dewar, the MP for Hassan’s riding (Ottawa Centre).