Extradition could happen to anyone, says professor fighting for change in law

Ottawa man Hassan Diab was extradited to France for his alleged involvement in a 1980 bombing. He spent more than three years in prison, despite little evidence to prove the charges. Now one expert argues it's time to change the law to prevent this from happening to innocent Canadians again.

Dalhousie law prof organizing experts to recommend changes to extradition law

Hassan Diab with his daughter Jena in the family's Ottawa home. He spent three years in a French prison on terrorism charges that were later dropped. (Lisa Laventure/CBC)
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A professor who is fighting to change what he calls Canada's flawed extradition law says any Canadian could fall victim to it.

"It could be someone who goes on vacation to a tropical destination or it could be a businessperson who operates in various other countries in the world," said Robert Currie, a professor of law at Dalhousie University.

"It could literally be anyone. It doesn't have to be Hassan Diab, who was living abroad in 1980," Currie said.

Under Canadian law, any evidence submitted by a state requesting extradition has to be considered "presumptively reliable." This sets the bar to fight the extradition very high.

Diab was extradited to France after being accused of a 1980 bombing in Paris. He spent 38 months in prison there, before being released. He returned to his home in Ottawa in January after terrorism charges were dropped.

Documents obtained by CBC News show that his extradition was secured on "smoking gun" evidence supplied by Canada.

Canadian university professor Hassan Diab talks about the decision to extradite him when he had not been found guilty of a crime in Canada. 1:01

"Canadians would be surprised and upset that Canada put so much energy into propping up a French case that was falling apart," Currie said.

The case is a good example of how hard it is for an individual to challenge an extradition request, he said. He believes the law needs to be changed, and is putting together a group of experts to make recommendations to the government.

Listen to the full audio near the top of this page, which includes a conversation with CBC journalist David Cochrane about the Hassan Diab case.


With files from CBC News. This segment was produced by The Current's Liz Hoath.

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