How a failed terrorism case derailed one Canadian's life
This is a C._B._C. podcast. Should we rethink our relationship with technology in the midst of the A._I.. Revolution Sleep sleep walkers a podcast from iheartradio explores the strange consequence of human interaction with artificial intelligence with secret labs and expert guests. It's co hosts Oswald mission and care a price talk about how new technology is changing everything from falling in love to diagnosing cancer. Listen to sleep walkers on your favorite podcast APP or wherever you get front burner hello. I'm Jamie Puzzo Tom Today. The case of his Sandia he's a lebanese-born Canadian citizen who had his world turned upside down in two thousand seven. That's the year he found out he was suspected by French. Authorities perpetrating a deadly terrorist attack in Paris nearly thirty years earlier the next ten years of dabs life would involve a lengthy court case extradition to France and three years spent imprison the husband ten years of tarnished reputation anguish unbelievable <unk> stress significant legal expenses and imprison away from my family. This is a case that would expose them very real questions agents about the Canadian extradition process which is why an independent review into the case was called the results of that review while they're now public today C._B._C.. A senior reporter David Cocker on his back. He broke big parts of the story. He's GonNa take us through it from the beginning and we're going to talk about how Diab in his supporters feel about the results lots of this new review. This is from Burnham so in two thousand and seven has santia was working as a sessional lecturer at Carleton University and one day after he'd wrapped up his lectures. There's a journalist from Le Figaro in France approached him <hes> seeking comment they wanted his reaction to the fact that France was investigating him for a notorious this bombing outside of the Paris synagogue from twenty seven years ago and this is the first time that he's ever heard about his alleged involvement in this bombing yes. This is the first time he's learned anything about it. You know he had moved from Lebanon. Studied in the United States had moved to Canada was trying to start an academic career and twenty seven years after a bomb went off in Paris. A bomb went off in his on the APPS life. It was never the same from this point and tell me more about this bombing this one thousand naty bombing. It's one of the most notorious terrorist attacks in French history. It was the first large-scale anti Semitic attack on French soil after the Second World War and what happened is a motorcycle with saddlebags packed with explosives was parked outside a synagogue out at the time of Jewish Jewish religious service and it exploded and killed four people and wounded more than forty th the synagogue had a glass ceiling and it shattered from the blast and collapsed gets down on the congregation. If the Congress the service ran late if they had left the synagogue on time more people would have been on the street and more people. Would I've been hit by the bomb so the images we looked at and the coverages we looked at in reporting the story. The carnage is unbelievable. The damage that was done it was unbelievable. We came out of the synagogue and saw this horrible scene people lying on the ground some wounded others dead listen. There was blood broken glass cars on fire. It was a war scene Sufri Lucy then I saw the body of that poor boy it'd be soupy pieces but then when we met Hassan Diab and you meet this soft-spoken sociologist what would you say to the victims of that crime mm-hmm who are still want someone to blame. What would you say to those people? I don't think they want someone to blame. They want somebody who's responsible for that. Delaying the two events just did not link and it turns out despite the investigation and the claims of French investigators. The facts didn't link either either. I know we're going to unpack that. During this conversation let's start with what led this French reporter to even approach Diab in the first place in two thousand seven like why do French authorities believe this Carlton University professor. Is the terrorists error that they're looking for it yeah so the Rue Kapernick <hes> tragedy is seared into the mindset of the French people. It's not quite a nine eleven scale events but it might be an in Oklahoma City. It might be the Boston Marathon bombing things that people are aware of and that are commemorated regularly and known <hes> there was a massive investigation they try to find the perpetrators of this. They had a suspect <hes> in one thousand nine hundred eighty a man by the name of Alexander Pana Dry which turns out to be a fake name it wasn't a real person person but this person was arrested in Paris in the days leading up to the bombing for trying to shoplift pliers at a hardware store and had been seen by the owner owner of the hardware store and then they were they spent a night in the run up to the bombing in a French hotel with a prostitute who had also seen this Alexander Dry Character return and they got compass sketches of what penalty looked like and no photo when him when he was arrested no no photos and no fingerprinting in in a conventional sense like would have happened if they were arrested today so they had a sketch and they had a name but they had no leads beyond that and then a lot change in the world after nine thousand eighteen eighty number one being the Berlin Wall coming down and that opened up a whole trove of secret files of the the East German police they had been monitoring Palestinian extremists and in those files was the name Hassan Diab and it was connected to this nineteen eighty eighty bombing now the name Zondi APP is a very common one in Lebanon but the Hassan Diab who was teaching at Ottawa pictures of him from nineteen eighty looked sort of like the witness sketches from the prostitute and their hardware store employees of Alexander Panin dry you so they had a lead but then they needed to build a physical link doc and they settled on Handwriting Analysis Panadura who signed the police statement when he was arrested. He filled out a hotel registration card when he checked into this hotel so they Ended up handwriting samples of Hasan. Di Ebbs to compare to panic dry us and their experts concluded. These are similar. This is a link so they had witnesses they had a sketch then they had German files appointed Diab and then handwriting that linked back to Alexander Panin dry. The problem was is that that a handwriting evidence would be fatally flawed. You WanNa talk about these handwriting samples with you in a moment but you know obviously the French authorities think they've got the right guy because they make a request request to extradite San Diab in two thousand eight and we're GonNa get into what happened during that case but I you know Diab maintained his innocence this whole time. I know that he fought this this. This was a six year ordeal. What is his life lake during this six years so you can imagine being arrested in two thousand was in an eight seven years after nine eleven for setting off a bomb outside. A synagogue in Paris is going to derail your life is basically shocked is a lot abiding citizens and has been all his life. All of a sudden overnight is a dragon chain and and cough and he's not going to spend a couple couple of days and the common jail he's taken into custody and initially denied bail. They have to fight for a bail hearing any eventually his releases secured <hes> but he's released senator extremely strict conditions. He has to wear an ankle bracelet that he has to pay for thousands of dollars a month to pay for his freedom and he has a bunch of sureties the people who were vouching for his good behaviour who offer up their houses and their wealth as collateral but someone has to be with him at all times when he's released. I know reading your reporting. There's one example of him trying to take his daughter to the hospital right. He starting a family with his wife Rani to folly at this point point in time and his daughter Jenna was born while all of this was happening and Hassan has an ankle bracelet on Rania. Tally is one of his sureties. He has to be with her at all all times. When Jenna was a newborn they have a medical crisis. Her temperature starts to drop drastically. She is days and weeks old at this point in time is that very critical stage for any new parent and he needs to get her to the hospital they drive there but for Rania to take Jenna into the hospital and for Hassan to park the car. Are they have to separate so to bring his wife and daughter to the hospital for her to get emergency medical care. He has to potentially violate the terms of his bail risk risk. Having his freedom rescinded limited freedom he had and then risk forfeiting all of that wealth that all of these people from his support network have put up as collateral collateral for his good behaviour and good conduct so he ended up not only having his freedom restricted. He lost his job at Carlton. He was not allowed to teach buzney. Brith issued a statement condemning Carlton Carlton for employing a suspected terrorist. He lost his career. His reputation was tarnished. They burn through all of their savings and to pay for the legal defense that they were mounting in this all incomes some savings if operated during the process and and he couldn't do simple things like go to the park with his kid by himself <music> and all of this is happening. The extradition hearing itself is taking place and and and tell me how this unfolds yeah the extradition case of Hassan Diab is one of the most intensely litigated extradition cases in Canadian history it might Stephen Be Number One and there's a lot of dynamics at play so initially Hassan Diab just finds a lawyer online and it's not going particularly well and at some point he is connected with a lawyer named Donald Bain and don vein is one of the preeminent and most prominent lawyers in Ottawa and he brings brings all of that to wait in the extradition hearing I I would say of this case. It's clearly the most heart wrenching in terms of what I saw it doing to Dr Deb's family and he's up against a guy named Claude lefrancois who is a senior counsel for the International Assistance Group which is a specialized department of the Department of Justice. They handle extradition. They are Canada's extradition lawyers. So France makes a request Canada appoints appoints one of his lawyers to act on France's behalf so France as I said started to try to build a connection between Hassan Diab and this Alexander Penetration new character who they believed to be the prime suspect behind the bombing the only physical evidence they have our handwriting samples and their experts say there are enough similarities that this this is a link. The problem is it's a piece of junk. The handwriting comparisons they used were not Hassan deb's handwriting. They were forms academic forms when any applied for like Grad School and immigration forms any applied to get into the United States. He signed them. His ex wife filled them out so wouldn't that be enough to just throw this case out completely so here's where it gets really interesting and this is where the allegations of an overzealous extradition prosecution by the Canadian Department of Justice come into play uh-huh so it's the fall of two thousand nine in the extradition hearing is getting ready to start. Donald Bain has has hired handwriting experts to look at the French evidence and they have realized is that they didn't they use the tainted samples at it's not even Hassan dabs handwriting they prepare their own expert reports for Diab's Defense Bain walks in goes Osa Lefrancois. The the government lawyer says look you. Your handwriting is not reliable we we are going to impeach the credibility of this. They present this evidence to the Canadian government assuming this will make everything go away instead what happens is the government accepts the information asked for an adjournment in the trial process and and then fires a memo off to France warning them that the case is about to fall apart and if you don't replace the handwriting analysis with a new handwriting analysis this Hassan Diab is most likely going to walk free and why are they being criticized for that well. They're being criticized for it because Bain argues that this is not Canada's role role France should have done a proper investigation with proper evidence and sent a proper case to Canada to argue the extradition and they clearly did not the Canadian lawyers then go into court and proceed to ask and get a series of Germans and delays while France does this work and throughout this process. The judge and the defender saying why are you delaying. Aren't you going to proceed what is going on and the Canadian lawyers never really give straight answers. They just just say look. France is looking for new evidence. I can't imagine what they might table. I don't know what they might present and they buy time for six months until yet another handwriting writing analysis is done this time using Hassan Diab actual handwriting and Lo and behold the new expert concludes yes this also matches catches the handwriting of the Mythical Alexander Penetration you so it was directing France to save Francis case and then buying time in court without being completely. We candidates the what you were doing and there's more while they were getting the handwriting evidence Canadian Justice Lawyers also fingerprinted Hassan Diab APP were sent samples of the fingerprints obtained in the French investigation and there was no match that information was never shared with the Santia or his lawyer and never presented in court every identifiable fingerprint on that statement excluded Doctor Deb. It was not him. It was conclusive because again. This is an extradition hearing this is not a criminal trial where you would be forced to disclose this in a criminal proceeding and Canada. An extradition hearing is not about innocence or guilt. It's about whether France has gotten over the bar to have Canadian citizen sent to France to stand trial and and that's all it was meant to determine and when ultimately ordering the extradition of Hassan after France <hes> judge Robert Mirage said the handwriting the evidence is weak. The the the entire case against US ON DAB is weak but that doesn't matter under extradition law the threshold has been met and I must I I am compelled to order him to leave and Jamie the the most egregious thing as an outsider is okay. The handwriting is weak. The fingerprint is weak Hassan Diab. We have had an alibi. He wasn't in Paris on October third nineteen eighty he was in Lebanon in Beirut Writing University exams what he was never allowed to table that in the extradition hearing 'cause you're not entitled to present defense evidence in a prerecorded videotape diab vowed to continue his fight fight against what he calls an unfair process of extradition a with thick every legal opportunity to clear my name and I look forward with the day in which I can't claim my life they all of this in addition to the allegations at the Justice Department overstep here but all of this other stuff duff raised a lot of questions and criticism that this act this extradition act we have itself sets too low threshold for extraditing Canadian the sentence right yeah this has been one of the the central issues in this and that the defense coming from the Department of Justice and extradition experts who are taking the government side. What is that this is not meant to be a trial and extradition hearing is not meant to be a substitute for trial and if you have problems with handwriting evidence or fingerprint evidence Ornella by those are issues to be dealt with at trial once you are sent to the country say France or the United States my wherever and the the argument being is at Canada owes it to his extradition partners to do this process fairly and quickly to facilitate justice in foreign countries because we will make extradition requests. They have people return to Canada. We did this with Luca Mocatta on the other side of this Earth Hassan Diab and an Army of defense defense lawyers who simply think the civil liberty bar is just too low here for people to get over that you can have an alibi and bad evidence against you and still up ended up spending thirty eight months in a French jail for a crime. You did not commit so let's talk about that French jail because he spent six years fighting extradition in Canada and then he moved to France for what I would think would be trial but instead. He ends up spending thirty eight months in jail. Why if I can back up just a little bit so they spent all these years fighting they appeal it all the way to the Supreme Court they lose and the conservative Justice Minister of the Time Rob Nicholson Nicholson signs the extradition and Hassan Abbas taken into custody to be sent to France. He's taken into custody just days before his daughter Jenas Second Birthday Day. He sent to France on her second birthday couple of months after he's there his wife. Rani gives birth to their son Jett. He sees his son for the first time during a visit to the French prison. It was the most difficult period and then you have one birthday after another his first his second her third second third fourth and fifth. I miss them. Or what more can you went. What more can you lose if you lose these things. There's nothing left in life. The prison he is in is called Flurry Mirage. It's Francis biggest prison and it is a hotbed of radicalization for Islamic extremists. <hes> this is where the people who did the Charlie Hebdo attack met and radicalized and planned the attack. <hes> one of the perpetrators of the Batta adequately attack was kept in a cell just several dozen meters from Hassan Diab so he's a small guy. He's a diminutive fellow. He's an Ottawa sociologist and he ends up in this is prison and ends up getting put in sort of a special ward <hes> with sex offenders and some white collar criminals sort of for their own protection the own said. What are you doing hear that many times. They keep the kept asking me. What are you doing here. He should be bad club and Kennedy you know he is in his cell for twenty two due to twenty three hours a day. He gets an hour of exercise time outside in an outdoor yard where he can take eight steps before he hits a wall turns right takes four staps hits a wall and they just keep doing that to go in a loop to get his exercise dandelions grow in this yard and he picks them and brings them into his cell and tries to keep them alive in whatever watery has for as long as he can and then when they start to die. He eats them for the nutrients in this time. He talked about contemplating suicide suicide but he thought about all the people who supported him. How are you not consumed with anger. If I get angry really what will happen happen. I think I will kill myself like just like that. What can you do what else there is. Nothing God's do you commit suicide. I know because you have these wonderful guys and the family and kids and do you solve anything and the answer was constantly no so I I know he was released in January of two thousand eighteen by French authorities. How did that come about so France has a very different judicial system than Canada? <hes> the judges lead the investigation and then decide whether to go with a prosecution and so this is why he spent so much time in prison as you're saying like he sent there you expect he's going to trial right away because the French investigation is over Canada's Canada's extradition laws say that you are nut to be extradited for investigation. You're only to be extradited for trial. This was raised by Bain at every step of the process <music> saying that Hassan Diab is going to languish in a foreign jail if we send him over and the Ontario Court of Appeal wrote in its rejection of Baynes arguments that we are are not convinced that he will simply languish in a foreign cell turns out. That's what happened. They did this investigation. He started cooperating with them and gave them a lot of leads including the fact that he was in Beirut on the day. This bomb went off along the way these judges felt that the case against Diab was weak and actually ordered that he be released but French prosecutors appealed this every step of the way this happened seven or eight times that the judges who were investigating the Arabs case wanted him to get bail in France and each time the prosecutor stepped in but but eventually the French investigation guests to the point where they just conclude book he has an alibi. The physical evidence didn't does not work they found more than twenty fingerprint samples <hes> throughout the various stages of investigation and kept comparing it to the APP. He said he he was fingerprinted. So many times he thought the INC would never come off these details if feel excruciating to listen to especially knowing what has Zahn was going through the one of the reasons why we're talking today is because <hes> last week the results of an independent review were released and what did that review ultimately fine yes so Hassan Diab in his supporters groups like Amnesty International the BBC Civil Liberties Association a lot of civil society groups and unions. They want want a full public inquiry led by judge with subpoena power and the right to cross examine witnesses. That's the red line. They are not moving off that request right but this isn't what that was right right. They've been asking for this. They got instead was an external review of the case <hes> done by Marie Siegel who's a former deputy attorney general of Ontario and he was asked to do a review of the case to come up with lessons learned Hassan Diab and his lawyer boycotted immediately they felt the terms of reference were too narrow and too rigid and designed to give the Department Department of Justice a full sales full-scale exoneration and that's essentially what Marie Siegel did. He reviewed the case he said all of the allegations of overzealous prosecution misleading is leading of the court and they're withholding a fingerprint evidence all of the allegations of wrongdoing there from Diab and his lawyers and his supporters were without merit. I found that the department urban of Justice Council acted totally professionally and ethically. I believe that the Extradition Act <hes> is is working working. The system worked exactly as it should but Hassan Diab still spent thirty eight months in prison so everything went right but Hassan Diab was still terribly wronged adding you reconcile these two things I'm thinking of Justin Trudeau who said last year that this never should have happened. Yes so what does does that mean. It never should have happened. We never should have been extradited to France or does it mean he never should have sat in a French sell for thirty eight months <hes> but this is the problem Siegel Segel concludes everything was done right and this has been the Department of Justice's argument from the beginning and when you look at it in a plain black and white reading of how extradition works that conclusion holds up assigned Dev's point is that the system is the problem. This is a report that excuses all the conduct of the Department of Justice International Assistance Group lawyers who did this case it defends the lack of disclosure of evidence of innocence innocence it endorses all of the troubling aspects of the current extradition law and system in Canada and for Hassan Diab and in and his family and his supporters <hes> who still think that the system is broken. Where do they go from here? When I came back people asked if he was going to sue and if you WANNA compensation and he said I don't want any benny from the taxpayers and Canada all he wanted was the inquiry to get answers and the review of the extradition act to get changes to make sure what happened to him doesn't happen to anyone ever again? The frustration at their re reaction news conference conference to the Seagull report was obvious and they made clear that for the first time they're seriously thinking about a lawsuit I one of the questions I asked Murray Siegel Jamie was you've made fourteen eighteen recommendations. If these have been in place ten eleven years ago when this started with Diab what would stop them from being sent to France and he said I'm not sure it would have prevented him. Being sent. Don't allow worked what might have changed. Canada might have done a better job of providing consular support and keeping on Francis case to ensure that he didn't just sit in that cell for thirty eight months it's and got his Judgment Day much much sooner David as always thank you so much. You're welcome <music> so just quickly. I wanted to mention something cut out of the conversation with David. Today we covered so much ground and we couldn't keep everything but talking about extradition. It's really hard to not think of the case of wall way exact among one joe I asked David what effective any the results of this review would have on that. He said he thinks people high I up in the Canadian government probably breathed a sigh of relief here had this report actually pointed out fatal flaws in Canada's extradition process well that would have given China ammunition to further call. What's happening among bogus something to think about there? That's all for today a big thank you to Michelle Shepherd Matt Braga and Chris Sproule Bay for hosting lows on vacation. We will see you tomorrow <music> for more C._B._C..