25 April, 2017, Ottawa – Yesterday, two French anti-terrorism investigative judges ordered again the release of Dr. Hassan Diab, the Canadian academic who was extradited from Canada to France in November 2014. The French judges found that there is “consistent evidence” that Dr. Diab was in Lebanon at the time of the 1980 Paris bombing. This is the sixth release order for Dr. Diab since last May, and the second release order within three weeks. The French Court of Appeal overturned all previous release orders. The prosecutor is appealing this latest release order.
William Bourdon, Apolline Cagnat and Amélie Lefebvre, Hassan’s lawyers in France, noted that “even though two weeks ago, the Court of Appeal overturned for the fifth time the decision to release Hassan Diab, the investigating judges have refused to renew Hassan’s expiring detention warrant. As the investigation progressed, the elements for charge that were already very weak to begin with have shrunk and are now close to nothing, while the elements for discharging Hassan are multiplying and are extremely convincing. The investigating judges are firm on the fact that it is not possible in a state of law to continue to detain Hassan.”
Don Bayne, Dr. Diab’s Canadian lawyer, stated that “the French investigative judges have repeatedly ordered Dr. Diab’s release because of “consistent evidence” that he was studying for and writing exams in Lebanon and was not even in France at the time of the 1980 bombing – and thus is completely innocent. Dr. Diab’s continued incarceration is wholly and manifestly unjust. It is past time for this government to come to the aid of a Canadian citizen, to end this travesty of justice, to bring him home. ‘Prime Minister Trudeau, Minister Freeland, where are you when an innocent Canadian needs you?’ ”
When Dr. Diab was ordered released by the judge of freedom and detention in May 2016, he spent ten days out on bail in Paris without incident, before his release order was overturned by the same panel of Court of Appeal judges which has repeatedly denied him bail.
Dr. Hassan Diab was extradited from Canada to France in November 2014. The Canadian extradition judge described the evidence against Dr. Diab as “illogical”, “very problematic”, and “convoluted”. However, 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.
Roger Clark, the former Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, remarked that “this travesty of justice continues solely for political reasons, there being no legal basis for Dr. Diab’s continuing imprisonment. Rather than acknowledge that an egregious error has been perpetrated, French authorities insist on maintaining their cruel charade against a background of widespread islamophobia and a fear of appearing weak on terrorism. Canada must immediately convey to the French Government the urgency of preventing further distortion of justice and of ensuring Hassan Diab’s speedy return to his home and family.”
Supporters of Dr. Diab 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.