The Current

Canadian Hassan Diab remains in prison after French court blocks release for 8th time

Hassan Diab has yet to face trial in France since being extradited from Canada three years ago for a crime he denies. His lawyer and wife continue to call on Canada to intervene in his case.
Hassan Diab attends an Ottawa rally calling on the Canadian government not to extradite him, Jan. 20, 2012. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

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It is a story that has been playing out for a decade, and this month it took yet another turn.

Hassan Diab, a Lebanese-Canadian citizen and a former university professor in Ottawa, has been sitting in solitary confinement in a Paris prison for the past three years.

He has yet to face trial in France, despite being extradited from Canada three years ago.

Last week, a French judge ordered him released —  just as three other French judges already have — for the eighth time.

"French lawyers tell us this is absolutely unprecedented in French legal history," says Diab's Canadian lawyer, Donald Bayne.

But yet again, the recent decision was immediately appealed and Hassan Diab remains behind bars, with French prosecutors citing concern he is a flight risk and may cause public disorder.

The extradition tests in Canada are so lamentably low that Canadians are liable to be extradited quite unconstitutionally.-Donald Bayne, Diab's Canadian lawyer

Diab denies any role in the 1980 Paris synagogue bombing that killed four people — and has maintained his innocence throughout.

Bayne says the evidence of Diab's innocence is uncontestable.

During the time of the attack, Bayne says Diab was writing exams at the University of Beirut, in Lebanon.

"There's documented proof that he sat and wrote all his exams."

Bayne also points to "objective evidence" of a fingerprint authorities have assigned to the supposed perpetrator. 

"And it does not match Hassan," Bayan tells guest host Piya Chattopadhyay. "He is excluded as being the source of the fingerprint."

Bayne says Diab should never have been extradited in the first place, and his case is a consequence of failed Canadian legislation.

"The extradition tests in Canada are so lamentably low that Canadians are liable to be extradited quite unconstitutionally."

"Canadians are liable to be extradited to a foreign country not on sworn evidence ...  A foreign state need only submit a written document signed by a foreign official claiming 'we have a case against this man.'"

Hassan Diab's Canadian lawyer Don Bayne looks on as Diab's wife, Rania Tfaily, speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Thursday, April 27, 2017. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Bayne says a case put forth by a foreign country is presumed to be premised on reliable evidence, and the onus is on the accused to prove otherwise. 

"If the evidence in the Diab case was not manifestly unreliable ... then what is unreliable evidence? No — there's simply no protection."

Diab's wife and professor at Carleton University, Rania Tfaily, is disappointed in the Canadian government's response to her husband's case.

"I did meet with Minister (Chrystia) Freeland ... She knew all of the details about the release orders, consistent evidence of his innocence, the fact that he was extradited from Canada based on suspect evidence. And she told me that she raised concerns about Hassan's case with her counterparts. But despite all of that — I mean he's entering his fourth year in prison … he's still there."

"What is being done, in my opinion, has not been enough."

Listen to the full conversation above.

This segment was produced by The Current's Pacinthe Mattar.