It has been 3233 days days since Hassan Diab was extradited from Canada to France, where he is imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. On November 13, 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear his appeal, despite the fact that the Canadian extradition judge described the case as “convoluted, very confusing, with conclusions that are suspect”. Less than 20 hours after the Supreme Court decision, the Canadian government sent Hassan to France with no chance to say farewell to his pregnant wife and daughter, even though the government had 45 days to do so by law.
Hassan was extradited based on a handwriting analysis report that compared his handwriting to five words written on a Paris hotel registration card from 1980. Five internationally renowned handwriting experts testified that the handwriting analysis is totally flawed and does not follow recognized methodology. Extradition legal expert Gary Botting asked “How can you give any credence to anything that’s one sentence long and hang a guy with it?” Don Bayne, Hassan’s lawyer in Canada, stated: “We now have the classic recipe for the wrongful conviction of a Canadian citizen”.
Human Rights Watch has documented the use of secret intelligence and unfair trials under France’s anti-terrorism laws. Tyler Levitan, spokesperson for Independent Jewish Voices in Canada said: “We are very worried that Dr. Diab will not be subject to a fair trial in France. Their anti-terrorism laws and use of secret evidence will be used unjustly against Dr. Diab to push for a conviction. This is a sad time for all of us who cherish justice and the rule of law.”
Hassan now sits in a French prison on the outskirts of Paris, in a small, solitary cell, under “judicial investigation” (mis en examen). He is expected to remain incarcerated for up to two years while the investigating magistrate decides whether or not to bring him to trial. Hassan is confined to his cell for 20 hours a day. He spends most of his time reading books that he borrows from a small prison library or that his family and friends send him. Although he is supposedly allowed to make phone calls, he has been having great difficulty in communicating with his family in Canada who have not been able to speak with him for some time.
Hassan bears the burdens of incarceration, isolation from family and community, navigating a foreign language and legal system, and the gnawing fear that true justice may elude him once again. Yet he remains strong with the knowledge that his supporters are with him, and he extends his deepest gratitude for their steadfast support.
Hassan is represented by the French lawyer Stéphane Bonifassi, who is working closely with Don Bayne. We must make sure that the real perpetrators of the rue Copernic crime are brought to justice. Making an innocent man pay for a crime he did not commit will only further the tragedy.
I have been living a Kafkaesque nightmare for over six years, fighting false allegations against me, enduring detention, strict bail conditions, the loss of my employment, and enormous stress on my family. It is beyond devastating that the Supreme Court of Canada would allow my extradition for a crime that I did not commit and based on a handwriting analysis report that was shown by world-renowned handwriting experts to be wholly unreliable, totally erroneous, and biased… I am grateful and heartened by the outpouring of support from thousands of individuals and organizations that recognize the injustice that I have experienced and the unfairness of Canada’s extradition law… I vow to never give up, and I will always remain hopeful that I will eventually return to my home in Canada and be reunited with my wife and children.
– Hassan Diab, November 13, 2014