Trudeau: Pick up the Phone, Call Macron, Bring Hassan Diab Home

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Prime Minister Trudeau,

We are calling on you to pick up the phone, call French President Macron, and work to bring home to Ottawa the wrongfully jailed Canadian citizen Hassan Diab.

Dr. Diab is an Ottawa University professor and father of two young Canadian children who has been jailed for over three years in France as a result of a controversial and legally questionable extradition proceeding commenced by the previous Conservative government.

Of critical concern is the fact that Dr. Diab has been ordered released on bail eight times by investigating judges in charge of his case, but on each occasion – most recently on November 14, 2017 – the Court of Appeal overturned all release orders at the prosecutor's behest. French lawyers have called this situation unprecedented, a political manoeuvre to look tough on terror even though a vast body of evidence shows Dr. Diab did not commit any crime.  

Indeed, Dr. Diab was originally sought by the French for a crime he did not commit. Dr. Diab’s finger prints, palm prints, physical description, and handwriting do not match those of the suspect sought for the October 1980 bombing in Paris that tragically killed four people.

Dr. Diab has consistently denied involvement and condemned the violence, while French investigating judges have confirmed that he was in Lebanon at the time of the bombing. The only reason he has spent three years in a French jail cell in the first place is because of Canada’s profoundly unfair extradition laws, under which Dr. Diab was sent overseas despite the Canadian extradition judge calling the case “weak,” “convoluted,” and “confusing,” adding “the prospects of conviction in the context of a fair trial seem unlikely.”

The inability of Dr. Diab to obtain release from a cell in which he is confined 20 hours a day recalls the frustrations of other Canadians wrongfully held overseas, such as journalist Mohamed Fahmy, held over 400 days in an Egyptian prison.

We know you are familiar with Mr. Fahmy’s case, because you issued a powerful statement on his behalf while in opposition, saying that then Prime Minister Stephen Harper "has an obligation to use the full force of the Prime Minister’s Office to help Canadian citizens when they are unjustly imprisoned abroad. His inaction must end today.

Mr. Fahmy, since returned to Canada, has called on you to intervene in this case, contact your French counterpart, and bring Dr. Diab home. Thousands of others, including Stephen Lewis, Naomi Klein, Sara Polley, Bob Rae, Ed Broadbent, Bernie Farber, Elizabeth May, and Monia Mazigh, have signed on to this call as well.

During your recent Asia-Pacific tour, you declared: "Canada has earned a reputation for being able to have strong and frank, sometimes firm, discussions around the rule of law and human rights with its partners. It's very much what people expect of Canada and it comes as no surprise when we bring it up."

This is what we expect of you regarding the case of Dr. Hassan Diab. We urge you to pick up the phone, call French President Macron, and make the necessary arrangements to ensure that an innocent Canadian citizen, Hassan Diab, is finally brought home.