On Wednesday May 17, more than 120 supporters of Dr. Hassan Diab gathered in front of the office of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa, urging him to intervene and bring Hassan back to his home in Canada.
The Noontime vigil was attended by politicians, human rights activists, and supporters of Hassan, and included remarks by Rania Tfaily (Hassan’s wife), Don Davies (Member of Parliament), Elizabeth May (leader of the Green Party), Monia Mazigh (author and human rights activist), Tim McSorley (National Coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group), Frances Deverell (retired Unitarian Minister), and Matthew Behrens (writer and social justice advocate), among others.
Matthew Behrens read statements of support from Senator Kim Pate, Mohamed Fahmy (Canadian journalist formerly detained in Egypt), Larry Rousseau (Executive Vice President for the Public Service Alliance of Canada), and Roger Clark (former Amnesty International Secretary General).
MP Don Davies called on the Canadian government to “immediately instruct its diplomats to convey to the French authorities the need to comply with the six separate French court orders to release Hassan Diab on bail.”
“We need to move quickly. We need to ask for Hassan’s release to return to Canada,” said MP Elizabeth May. “He should be here with his family in Ottawa.”
Addressing the crowd, Rania Tfaily read excerpts from one of Hassan’s letters and described his ordeal. “He spends his days swinging between pain and despair, alone over 20 hours per day in a tiny cell, thousands of miles away from his family and home”.
Roger Clark wrote in his statement, “As the former Secretary General of Amnesty International (Canada), I have rarely seen a case that so glaringly calls out for the intervention of the Canadian Government. I firmly believe that a meeting with key members of Dr. Diab’s support group would not only help clarify any questions [the Prime Minister] might have, but also lead to the development of a multi-pronged strategy to not only win Dr. Diab bail, but also bring him home where he belongs.”
Matthew Behrens reminded Prime Minister Trudeau that, while in opposition, “Trudeau called on his predecessor to use the full powers of his office to intervene on behalf of Canadians unjustly detained abroad. Now we are calling on Mr. Trudeau to do the same with Dr. Diab.”
Canadian citizen, university professor, husband, and father of two young children in Ottawa, Dr. Hassan Diab, was unjustly extradited from Canada to France almost three years ago. He remains in detention outside Paris while French authorities continue their 27-year old investigation of the 1980 bombing near a Paris synagogue. At the extradition hearing, the Canadian judge called the evidence against Dr. Diab “illogical”, “very problematic”, and “convoluted”. Nevertheless, the Canadian judge stated that the low threshold for evidence under Canada’s extradition law left him no choice but to commit Dr. Diab to extradition.
Dr. Diab has been ordered released six times by French investigative judges who found that there is “consistent evidence” that Dr. Diab was not in France at the time of the 1980 Paris attack. However, each time the French Court of Appeal quashed the release orders at the Prosecutor’s behest because of the political climate in France.
Dr. Diab’s supporters have launched a Parliamentary petition calling upon the Government of Canada to work towards the immediate granting of bail to Hassan and securing his urgent return to his family and home in Canada.