Thursday, October 28, 2010

Please Take a Stand on Hassan Diab's Case

Dear all,

We urge you to take a firm public stand against abusive extradition cases by (1) signing the statement below, and (2) (if you live in Ottawa) attending Dr. Hassan Diab's extradition hearing, which is scheduled to commence on November 8, 2010 (details below).

On October 15, 2010, Dr. Diab’s lawyer filed important documents with the Court showing how French investigators have manipulated unsourced secret intelligence and other materials to falsely implicate Dr. Diab. The documents also demonstrate how evidence exonerating Dr. Diab has been hidden from the Court. These abusive actions by French investigators constitute an attack on principles of fundamental justice and demonstrate how Canada’s extradition law has so far failed to prevent foreign governments from exercising persecution by proxy and failed to honor Canada's international human rights obligations.

We believe this is a matter of importance to all of us and we hope that you will help uphold principles of fundamental justice by signing the statement below and attending the hearing. Please share this message with your friends and colleagues.

Sign Statement

Please consider endorsing the statement below. To endorse, simply email us at and let us know that you endorse the statement.

Court Watch

Dr. Diab's extradition hearing will commence on Monday, November 8, 2010, and is scheduled to continue until December 3. The hearing will take place at the Ontario Superior Court, 161 Elgin Street, Ottawa.

We invite you to come to the hearing and show your support. Court begins at 10:00 am and ends at 5:00 pm daily with a break for lunch. Attendees can freely (but quietly) enter and leave court whenever they wish.

Please email us at and let us know which days/times you plan to attend. We will then be able to notify you if the schedule changes unexpectedly.

Stop Hassan Diab’s Forced Removal from Canada

Hassan Diab is a much loved and respected sociology professor who is wrongly accused by French authorities of involvement in an attack near a Paris synagogue in 1980. Hassan Diab condemns that attack and is strongly opposed to ethnically and religiously motivated discrimination and violence.

Hassan Diab is fighting his forced removal from Canada (via “extradition”) to face fabricated charges based on secret intelligence, the sources of which are admittedly unknown even to French authorities. There is serious concern that this intelligence may be the product of torture. Dr. Diab’s case represents the first time that a foreign government has sought the extradition of a Canadian citizen based on secret intelligence that cannot be challenged in a court of law.

The contemporary climate of ethnic, racial, and religious profiling means that Dr. Diab, like many other Muslim and Middle-Eastern Canadians, is becoming yet one more victim in the global “War on Terror”.

Since November 2008, Dr. Diab has suffered through over four and a half months of detention, followed by the loss of his university employment and humiliating and oppressive bail conditions that include an exorbitantly expensive GPS monitoring device.

Canada’s extradition law has long been criticized for failing to honor Canada’s international human rights obligations and to prevent foreign governments from exercising persecution by proxy.

The “evidence” presented by France in an effort to tear Dr. Diab from his friends and family is based on an alarming pattern of serious contradictions, prejudicial opinions, significant misrepresentations and omissions, and withholding or burying of exonerating evidence. Key pieces of evidence appear to have been tampered with, to the point of fraud. To cite but a small handful of many examples:
  • Evidence proving Dr. Diab’s innocence has either been buried or perversely transformed into incriminating conclusions.

  • French investigators hid from the court in Canada the fact that Dr. Diab’s finger and palm prints do not match those of the alleged suspect.

  • Handwriting analysis described by the Canadian Crown prosecutor as akin to a “smoking gun” was withdrawn after internationally renowned experts pronounced it to be biased and of “appalling” reliability. It was replaced by a ‘new’ handwriting analysis which these same experts found to be at least as appalling and biased as the previously withdrawn one.

  • French investigators have refused to correct any misrepresentations, contradictions, and inaccuracies in their case despite having had ample time to do so.

  • Government of Canada attorneys have argued that French investigators are under NO obligation to present information in their possession that would cast a positive light on Dr. Diab.
It shocks our conscience to see deprivation of liberty based on such scurrilous accusations. We are horrified that the standards of Canada’s Extradition Act are so low that this pretence of a case against Dr. Diab has been allowed to drag on for so long.

Given that such an unjust process has been made to appear "acceptable" - in part because of Dr. Diab's ethnic and religious background - we, the undersigned, are compelled to speak up and publicly call for an end to this clear affront to liberty.

We are opposed to the unjust and oppressive extradition proceedings against Dr. Diab.

We thus call upon the Canadian Minister of Justice to:
  1. Exercise the power he has, under extradition law, to immediately halt extradition proceedings against Dr. Diab; and to act on his legal obligation to refuse to make unjust and oppressive extradition orders;

  2. Protect individuals in Canada from unjust and abusive extradition practices; stop the use of secret intelligence of unknown, untestable reliability in extradition hearings; and refuse extraditions to requesting states that use secret, unsourced intelligence or intelligence that may have been derived from torture as trial evidence;

  3. Reform extradition law to take into account Canada’s human rights obligations, including the presumption of innocence, the right to a fair trial, the right to disclosure of evidence, and all other due process rights.

To sign the statement, inquire about other ways to support Dr. Diab, or obtain more information about the legal factum detailing the manipulation of intelligence and twisting of evidence, please send an email to

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Letter to The Globe and Mail

The following letter was written to Globe and Mail columnist Lysiane Gagnon in response to an inaccurate and misleading article published on October 10, 2010. To date, neither Ms. Gagnon nor editors for the Globe and Mail have responded.

Ms. Gagnon,

Your column in The Globe and Mail, titled "Still waiting, 30 years on" (October 10, 2010), demonstrates a troubling lack of knowledge about crucial factors at work in the extradition case of Dr. Hassan Diab.

To begin with, you note the extradition hearing has experienced “a number of delays” and attribute these, in part, to “disagreement over handwriting evidence submitted by the French investigators”. In fact, the fiasco surrounding France's handwriting evidence has been the single biggest factor accounting for the protracted nature of extradition proceedings against Dr. Diab.

In December 2009, the defence submitted reports from four of the world’s foremost handwriting experts showing the manifest unreliability of France’s handwriting evidence. France waited more than five months—from December 2009 to May 2010—to submit a new expert opinion that seeks to amend the shoddy work of their previous analysts. This new submission was so poorly timed that the court was forced to push back the extradition hearing date by another five months—from June to November 2010. Thus, the lethargic response of French investigators to defence evidence has caused a delay of nearly one year.

This episode reveals that France would have been quite content to achieve extradition based on entirely flawed evidence—evidence that Crown prosecutors have likened to a “smoking gun”. Instead, French authorities were forced to withdraw their shoddy evidence and regroup. Not only is this kind of information crucial to a clear understanding of why efforts to extradite Dr. Diab have met with delays, but it also raises real doubts about the merits of France’s case. By describing this affair as a mere “disagreement” between the prosecution and defence, you provide cover for French investigators and prevent Globe and Mail readers from questioning your assertion that “Mr. Diab should be extradited as soon as possible.”

But without a doubt, the weakest part of your article is your declaration that, “There’s no reason for Canada to show special leniency – there’s no risk of him being mistreated or submitted to an unfair trial, since France’s legal system offers all the guarantees of a democratic country.” Nowhere do you mention the most controversial aspect of Dr. Diab’s case: French reliance upon secret, unsourced intelligence as key evidence to support the extradition request. Acknowledging this fact would certainly complicate claims about the fairness of the French legal system, since secret and unsourced intelligence is inherently unreliable as courtroom evidence.

Two recent reports by Human Rights Watch criticize France’s use of intelligence as evidence and document instances in which evidence derived from torture has been used by the French counterterrorism judiciary to prosecute terrorism suspects (“Preempting Justice: Counterterrorism Laws and Procedures in France”, July 2008; “No Questions Asked: Intelligence Cooperation with Countries that Torture”, June 2010).

Several civil liberties organizations, including the national Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, and the Civil Liberties Association of the National Capital Region, have voiced grave concerns about the prospect that France’s “key evidence” is secret intelligence that may be the product of torture.

Your article concludes by saying that “It’s a matter of justice for the victims of the attack on rue Copernic that there be at least an honest attempt to identify the perpetrators of this murderous anti-Semitic act.” Yes, but prosecution founded on unsourced secret intelligence and shoddy handwriting analysis is a very far cry from an “honest attempt” to get at the truth.

Frankly, you do your readers a great disservice by omitting these important facts from your article.


Donald J. Pratt
Hassan Diab Support Committee

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Keep Evidence Derived From Torture Out of Canadian Courts

The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) recently issued a press release about Hassan's case.
"The only effective way to police those in authority from engaging in [torture] or seeking to benefit from it is to prohibit use of evidence derived from it. Absent assurances from France that they have and will respect this rule, Canada should not proceed with an extradition hearing at all."

Also, Mr. Eric Holmes, the President of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, wrote a letter to the Canadian Minister of Justice regarding Hassan's case.
"Canada cannot rely on evidence derived from torture under any circumstances. We urge you to stop the use of unsourced intelligence in Mr. Diab’s case, and in all other cases like his. The prohibition against torture requires that all incentive to commit torture be eliminated. Keeping torture evidence out of Canadian courts is crucial in upholding our commitment to this universal standard."

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Justice Misplaced is Still Justice Delayed

Closure to the Copernic Tragedy Cannot Come at the Expense of an Innocent Man

In an opinion piece that appeared in The Jerusalem Post on October 1, 2010, Shimon Samuels of the Simon Wiesenthal Center remembers the tragedy of the 1980 Copernic attack and situates it within the wider context of anti-Semitism.

Mr. Samuels notes that efforts to extradite the suspect "have been met with delays". He goes on to assert that, "Closure can only come by Canada's extradition of Hassan Diab to face a French tribunal."

The extradition case of Dr. Hassan Diab has received scant press coverage outside of Canada, so readers may not be aware of developments in the nearly two years since Dr. Diab’s arrest. Mr. Samuels refers to "delays" but offers no explanation for why they have occurred. This may leave readers with the false impression that Canada's extradition process is somehow at fault, or perhaps that the defence has sought to drag out the legal process.

Nowhere is it suggested that the reliance of French investigators on secret, unsourced intelligence—inherently unreliable as courtroom evidence—may have significantly impeded the judicial process. Nor does the writer inform readers about the fiasco surrounding France's handwriting evidence, which the defence has shown to be so flawed that French authorities were compelled to withdraw it.

France waited more than five months—from December 2009 to May 2010—to submit a new expert report that supposedly amends the embarrassingly shoddy work of their previous analysts. This new submission was so poorly timed that the court was forced to push back the extradition hearing date by another five months—from June to November 2010. Thus, the slow response of French investigators to defence evidence has caused a delay of nearly one year.

Not only are these facts crucial to a clear understanding of why efforts to extradite Dr. Diab “have been met with delays”, but they also raise significant doubts about the merits of France’s case.

Mr. Samuels’ also unwittingly highlights how French theories about the case change like a chameleon each time reality does not fit the “facts”. In particular, Mr. Samuels repeats the erroneous “fact” that Hassan is Palestinian. French authorities discarded their carefully nurtured theory that the bomber was Palestinian once they learned that Hassan is not Palestinian, and news reports ceased to refer to Hassan as Palestinian from late 2008 onwards. Yet Mr. Samuels continues to rely on this long-discredited piece of information. This is a particularly noteworthy error, since it goes straight to the heart of France’s case, which is about establishing identity.

Justice delayed is indeed justice denied. But so is handing an innocent man over to foreign authorities merely on their say-so. Extradition is not a rubber-stamp process. According to the extradition treaty, France’s evidence must meet the prima facie standard of admissibility for prosecution in a Canadian court. By failing to provide evidence worthy of the name, the French authorities have committed themselves to an extradition process that respects neither the memory of the Rue Copernic victims nor the fundamental principles of justice that are supposed to protect citizens from potentially grave miscarriages of justice.

Closure cannot be truly achieved by prosecuting an innocent man.

Hassan Diab Support Committee