November 20, 1953 |
|involvement in the 1980 Paris synagogue bombing|
|under house arrest, awaiting extradition to France|
Hassan Diab (in Arabic حسن دياب) (born November 20, 1953) is a former sociology lecturer at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada who was arrested in 2008 for an alleged role in the 1980 Paris synagogue bombing. On June 6, 2011, a judge in Ottawa agreed to a French request to extradite Diab to France for trial, and several appeals followed. On April 4, 2012, Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson ordered Diab extradited to France to face terror bombing charges. Diab's lawyer is expected to appeal that decision.
Early life and education
Diab was born in Lebanon, and studied sociology at the American University of Beirut. He received his PhD from Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York. He became a Canadian citizen in 1993, and moved to Ottawa, Ontario in 2006. He holds dual citizenship.
Diab was arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on November 13, 2008, at the request of French authorities who want him extradited to stand trial for his alleged role in a 1980 bombing outside a synagogue on Rue Copernic in Paris. He faced charges of murder and attempted murder in connection with the bombing, in which four people were killed and dozens injured by the detonation of about 10 kilograms (22 lb) of explosives hidden in the saddlebags of a parked motorcycle.
Diab denies all charges. His lawyer said the arrest was "a mistaken identification", and that Diab did not enter France in 1980. Friends, colleagues, and former professors of Diab expressed shock and bafflement at the news of his arrest. His thesis adviser, a noted Jewish scholar, said he never knew Diab to be in any way anti-Semitic, and called the news "not credible".
Termination of teaching contract
In early July 2009, Diab was hired to teach a summer course in introductory sociology at Carleton University. On July 28, the day after a bail hearing disclosed his employment and subsequent teaching, B'nai Brith Canada released a statement condemning Carleton for employing a suspected terrorist. “We find it deplorable that university officials believe that there is nothing wrong with employing Diab. The safety and security of the community as a whole, and of the Carleton University campus in particular, are of great concern to us." B'nai Brith, the influential Jewish group, had harshly criticized the university for hiring Mr. Diab. The Toronto-based national office of B'nai Brith issued a statement condemning Carleton's actions, while an Ottawa-based member of the group telephoned the university directly to complain.
The university confirmed to the CBC that Diab was teaching the course. Later that day, university officials cancelled Diab's contract and named a replacement, stating that Diab had been replaced "in the interest of providing students with a stable, productive academic environment that is conducive to learning." "The university did the right thing," B'nai Brith's executive vice-president, Frank Dimant, said of Carleton's about-face in not allowing Diab to teach."
Carleton University professors continue to support Diab stating that his termination violates the university's contract obligations. The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) issued a press release condemning the actions of Carleton's administration.
Based on information from intelligence agencies of Germany obtained from former members of the group, French authorities allege that Diab was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the group blamed for the bombing. Evidence unsealed as part of the extradition case, in April 2009, included two police sketches made sometime after the bombing. Samples of Diab's handwriting, while a student at Syracuse University years later, were subject to handwriting analysis. The sample of Diab's Syracuse handwriting was compared to the writing on a Paris hotel registration card filled out under the alias Alexandre Panadriyu. One French expert stated that the handwriting was definitely Diab's, though it appeared efforts had been made to change it. Another French expert said Diab could have written the registration card.
In October, 2009, Diab’s lawyer submitted to the Canadian court several reports produced by experts in Canada, the United States, France, and the United Kingdom. The lawyer informed the court that intelligence experts were prepared to explain the difference between evidence and intelligence and its “inherent secrecy and non-disclosure.” Moreover, handwriting experts, including a top British expert, characterized the evidence tendered by French authorities as “demonstrably false.” The Crown, on behalf of France, retracted the evidentiary nature of their original handwriting experts and asked the court for more time in order to get another opinion.
The reports were the subject of an evidentiary hearing in December 2009. At the end of the hearing, the judge decided that the defence was permitted to file reports from all of their four handwriting experts, and could call any two of these experts to testify at the extradition hearing. The Crown would be allowed to cross-examine all four of the defence handwriting experts if he would so choose. The defence called University of Toronto law professor Kent Roach to testify as an expert on the issue of intelligence as evidence at the extradition hearing; he testified as to the unreliability of using intelligence as evidence on November 24 and 25, 2009 in Ottawa.
An extradition hearing had, temporarily, been scheduled to begin in January 2010. However, on December 18, 2009, the Crown Attorney (representing The Attorney General of Canada) requested an adjournment of the hearing to review the defence evidence. The next possible date for the extradition hearing was to have been June 2010.
The judge hearing the case stated that he wanted to start the flow of evidence soon, and suggested that he was becoming weary of delays by the French government in presenting its case. The hearing was scheduled to begin on November 8, 2010.
On May 17, 2010, the hearing scheduled to begin June 14, 2010 was again delayed after France disavowed the evidence of two handwriting experts discredited by the defence. The Crown planned instead to introduce evidence from a third, new French handwriting expert, who found a "very strong presumption" that Diab was the author of the hotel registration card. Kent Roach, the expert defence witness, accused the French government of "dragging its feet," "cherry picking evidence" and "bootstrapping" by requesting a delay while justice officials in Paris gather more evidence. Defence council called the Crown's new plan "absolutely scandalous". He went on to say, "At the 11th hour and 59th minute they withdraw their entire handwriting case and substitute a new case."
Diab's lawyer also accused French authorities of finding a new handwriting expert in an attempt to save their case after the two they originally used were discredited by four defence handwriting experts, including a former RCMP document examiner. On December 6, 2010, the presiding judge ruled to allow the testimony of three more defence handwriting experts, but said that he would not necessarily give it any weight in his final analysis.
Former RCMP forensic document examiner, Brian Lindblom, was retained by the defence and testified on December 13, 2010 on the handwriting analysis submitted by France's new, and third examiner, Anne Bisotti. Stating that the new report submitted by the Crown was "often confusing and incomprehensible", Lindblom criticized the mandate given Bisotti, by Magistrate Marc Trévidic. Trévidic instructed that the analysis be done to "'determine if he (Diab) is certainly or may be the writer.' There appears to be no room for an objective consideration of the possibility that the author of the sample material may not be the writer; he is presumed to be the writer." "The mandate is designed not to seek objective evidence," Lindblom testified. Bisotti's handwriting analysis was the third sent to the court after France disavowed two previous analyses when the defence demonstrated their unreliability.
On June 6, 2011, Justice Robert Maranger committed Diab for extradition, and stated that "regrettably" he had no jurisdiction to grant bail. Diab was taken into custody, pending a bail hearing expected the following week. Because the case has raised so many challenges to Canadian extradition law, the decision could ultimately rest with the Supreme Court. Maranger said the evidence against Diab was "weak", but France had shown a prima facie case and that Canada must expect France to give Diab a fair trial. On April 4, 2012, Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson ordered Diab extradited to France to face terror bombing charges. Diab's lawyer was expected to appeal that decision.
While awaiting the outcome of the extradition hearing, Diab was required to abide by very strict bail conditions. He could only leave his home for work, legal or medical appointments, and only when accompanied by one of the five persons who posted his combined $250,000 in bail. He must observe a 9 p.m. to 7 a.m curfew and report to the RCMP once a week. He may not hold or apply for a passport, or own a cellphone. He must remain in the Ottawa-Gatineau region, but keep away from Ottawa and Gatineau airports.
Among the conditions of his bail, Diab is required to wear a GPS electronic ankle bracelet and pay the $2,500 monthly surveillance costs himself. In June 2010, Diab's lawyer asked Judge Maranger to allow removal of the ankle bracelet, which had cost $30,000 to date. The Crown opposed the request, saying that Diab remained a flight risk. The judge ruled that Diab must continue to wear the device, calling it the only effective guarantee that he will not flee to Lebanon or another country with no extradition treaty with France. He suggested that Diab, facing the possibility of life imprisonment in France if convicted, had every motivation to flee.
- "Ottawa professor to be extradited to France on terror bomb charges". The Toronto Star. April 5, 2012.
- "Canadian held in Paris synagogue bombing". The Toronto Star. November 14, 2008.
- "File on 1980 Paris bombing revealed". The Globe and Mail. November 20, 2008.
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- "Ottawa man denies 1980 French synagogue bombing". National Post. November 1, 2007.
- "Friends shocked as Ottawa professor held in Paris bombing". The Ottawa Citizen. November 15, 2008.
- "B’nai Brith Canada raises the alarm over Carleton’s reinstatement of alleged synagogue bomber". B'nai Brith. July 28, 2009.
- "University replaces accused professor". CanWest News Service. July 29, 2009.
- "L'Université Carleton fait volte-face". Radio-Canada. July 29, 2009.
- "Paris bombing suspect won't teach at Carleton". CBC News. July 31, 2009.
- "CAUT statement on Carleton University’s dismissal of Dr. Hassan Diab". July 29, 2009.
- "Ottawa university slammed for firing terrorism suspect". The Ottawa Citizen. July 29, 2009.
- "Synagogue Bomb Suspect Arrested". ABC News. November 13, 2008.
- "Hassan Diab: The French connection". The Ottawa Citizen. November 21, 2008.
- "Hearing set for prof accused of synagogue bombing". Ottawa Sun. October 22, 2009.
- "Experts allowed to testify at Diab trial, judge rules". The Ottawa Citizen. December 12,2009.
- "Diab Gets Date for Extradition Hearing". Ottawa Sun. June 2, 2009.
- "Diab's extradition hearing to be delayed for months". The Ottawa Citizen. December 19, 2009.
- "Judge blasts France in bombing case". Winnipeg Free Press. February 9, 2010.
- "Diab loses bid to be freed of monitoring bracelet". The Ottawa Citizen. June 18, 2010.
- "Hearing for alleged terrorist delayed". National Post. May 18, 2010.
- "‘Elastic’ Diab evidence not reliable: Expert". Ottawa Sun. November 24, 2010.
- "Ottawa university professor's extradition hearing delayed again". The Ottawa Citizen. May 17, 2010.
- "Judge allows defence evidence in Diab extradition case". The Ottawa Citizen. December 06, 2010.
- "French handwriting evidence against Diab flawed: Expert". The Ottawa Citizen. December 13, 2010.
- "Diab committed for extradition in Paris synagogue bombing case". The Ottawa Citizen. June 6, 2011.
- Ottawa terror suspect granted bail with strict conditions, Montreal Gazette, March 31, 2009
- "University of Ottawa professor accused of terrorist bombing in court fight over cost of his surveillance". The Ottawa Citizen. June 16, 2010.