Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Amnesty Says No Evidence for France to Jail Ottawa Professor, Urges PM to Act

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Amnesty Says No Evidence for France to Jail Ottawa Professor, Urges PM to Act

Article excerpt

PM urged to push France to free professor


OTTAWA - Hassan Diab, an Ottawa professor behind bars in France despite numerous court rulings questioning the evidence against him, is being held solely for political purposes, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Donald Bayne said France is keeping Diab behind bars so it won't be seen as soft on terrorism after a spate of recent attacks. And he said the Trudeau government is acting like a "passive little brother" to France by actively not raising his case.

"He has become, in effect, a political prisoner of the terror trauma in France," Bayne told a news conference on Parliament Hill.

The veteran lawyer outlined what he called new evidence uncovered this week by investigating judges in France that shows Diab was in Lebanon, studying for and writing university exams, at the time of a fatal 1980 synagogue attack in Paris.

Bayne said the French investigation has found six independent witnesses who were part of a group studying with Diab in 1980. Documents from the Lebanese University confirm that Diab sat for and passed exams at the time of the attack.

The investigation also confirmed Diab's account that his passport was stolen and used by somebody else at that time, Bayne added.

Diab denies any involvement in the attack that left four dead and dozens injured.

Amnesty International, the Canadian Association of University Teachers and Diab's family question his continued imprisonment, given that French investigating judges have ruled six times he should be released on bail. All of the release orders have been overturned on appeal.

The most recent release order, in late April, noted evidence that Diab was in Beirut when the bombing occurred. A French appeal court reversed that order on May 2, which kept Diab behind bars.

Bayne accused the federal Liberal government of ignoring the evidence that he says clears Diab because its judgment is being clouded by its otherwise warm international relations with France.

"I think there's been a deference to France. We're getting the feeling on behalf of the family that it's Canada playing the passive little brother to France," said Bayne. …

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