The Trial of Hassan Diab

The Trial

Kafka visited me
He asked how I was doing
I told him about my trial
And he told me about his
We compared notes
It pained us very much
That history keeps on repeating itself.
In the archaic law of extradition
I can’t introduce evidence
That shows my innocence
But they can file handwriting reports
One after another
Even though it is not mine
They said I can change my writing
Strangely that was what they said
Of Dreyfus one hundred years ago
Did we learn anything?
Did anything change?

—Hassan Diab

Hassan Diab is a sociology lecturer at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) arrested Diab on November 13, 2008 at the request of French authorities who wanted to extradite him to stand trial for his alleged role in a 1980 bombing outside a synagogue in Paris.

Diab has denied all the charges saying that he did not enter France in 1980, and friends, colleagues and former professors have expressed shock at his arrest. In 2009, Diab had been hired to teach a summer course at Carleton University; however, on July 28, 2009, B’nai Brith Canada, a pro-Israeli group with influential ties to the Canadian government, released a statement in which it condemned Carleton University for employing what it termed a suspected terrorist. University officials then terminated Diab’s employment and hired a replacement.

Carleton University professors continue to support Diab stating that his termination violates the university’s contract obligations, while the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has condemned the actions of Carleton University’s administration.

Handwriting analysis is pivotal to the Canadian federal government’s Crown’s case which is based upon a hotel registration card believed to have been signed by the person who planted a bomb outside the French synagogue. A comparison of Diab’s handwriting on American government documents while he was a student at Syracuse University in the mid-1990s was compared to the hotel registration card, believed to be signed by the bomber. The origin, and commonality, of the handwriting samples are central to the Canadian federal government’s handwriting analysis evidence. France has disavowed two handwriting experts which Diab’s lawyers have discredited; however, the Canadian government prosecution now plans instead to introduce evidence from a third, new French handwriting expert, who found a “very strong presumption” that Diab is the author of the hotel registration card.

Meanwhile, Diab is required to abide by strict bail conditions, and can only leave his home for work, legal, or medical appointments. When he leaves his home, he must be accompanied by one of the five people who posted his combined $250,000 in bail. Diab must also observe a 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew and report to the RCMP once a week. He is not allowed to hold or apply for a passport or to own a cellphone. He is also required to wear a GPS electronic ankle bracelet and must pay the $2,500 monthly surveillance costs himself.

In the interim, Israeli war criminals such as Israeli minister and former military chief Moshe Yaalon (responsible for dropping a one ton bomb on a densely-populated area of Gaza in 2002, killing 14 civilians, including eight children), who cancelled a United Kingdom visit because of fears of arrest for alleged war crimes, have no such qualms about entering or leaving Canada where Israeli war crimes have been sanctioned by Canadian government officials such as Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, Foreign Minister John Baird and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. When Israel attacked an essentially defenseless civilian population in Gaza in 2008 and 2009 killing 1400 people, Baird declared Palestinian resisters to be cowards. In 2006, during a vicious Israeli attack on Lebanon which killed at least 1200 Lebanese, Harper opposed a ceasefire and called Israel’s actions “measured and justified.” The Jewish Defense League (JDL), which the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) declared in 2001 to be a “right-wing terrorist group”, succeeded in persuading Jason Kenney to ban British Member of Parliament George Galloway from entering Canada in 2009 and also in 2012 of cutting funding of a settlement program administered by the Palestinian non-profit organization Palestine House based in Mississaugua, Ont. Both the JDL and B’nai Brith (which also fully supported the banning of Galloway and the de-funding of Palestine House) encourage sending soldiers from the Israeli Army to provide cover for Israeli war crimes via speaking engagements on Canadian university campuses.