GIST: This story has been compared to a B-movie. Canadian-Lebanese professor Hassan Diab is left in awe when a French journalist approaches him in 2007 at the University of Ottawa to inform him he is under investigation in relation to a bombing that killed four people near the Copernic St. synagogue in Paris close to three decades ago. Thirteen months later the RCMP arrests Diab at the request of the French police, who consider him the suspect.  The suspenseful movie trailer begins with quick flashes of Diab’s life spiralling out of control as the extradition court battle intensifies on Canadian soil. Journalists film Diab and dozens of his supporters holding signs protesting his innocence. The flimsy case against Diab is built on German “secret unsourced intelligence” handed to the French. Authorities blamed the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine for the bombing. The militant group had claimed responsibility for a string of bombings, assassinations, and hijacking of airplanes in the late 1960s and 1970s. German intelligence reports submitted to court that I read indicate “five Palestinians” known to the investigators as members of the PFLP could have been behind the attack. Rania Tfaily, Diab’s wife confirmed to me that he was not born in Palestine and had no Palestinian origins. More shockingly, the intelligence names the suspect as “Hassan El Diab” not “Diab” — a big difference that could be translated into a case of mistaken identity. At this point of the drama we get a view of the real bomber as he fills in the registration card at the Celtic Hotel in Paris and checks in under the alias of Alexander Panadriyu, a Cypriot citizen. Four handwriting experts have declared Diab’s handwriting does not match the writing of the bomber on the card. Several French experts insist his handwriting matches five words written by the suspect — a conclusion widely critiqued. The political thriller takes a new turn when the palm and fingerprints on the hotel registration card and in the car that transported the explosives do not match Diab’s prints taken by the RCMP. Case documents reveal the hotel receptionist and porter described the bomber as a man in his mid-40s. Diab was 26 at the time. Not a single hotel employee was able to identify Diab when the French police showed them his photo. Nevertheless, the unprecedented two-year extradition hearing ended in catastrophe. Diab was committed to extradition in June 2011. He was flown to Paris in 2014 where he has been languishing in a tiny cell for 22-hours day after he lost his appeal to an embarrassing Canadian court order. To the naked eye this case would not have resulted in a conviction in a fair Canadian criminal court. Experts believe the 1999 Extradition Act is a black hole in the Canadian legal system that should be re-examined. Unfortunately, this is not a film we can stop or fast forward as we please. It’s a painful reality haunting Diab and his family every day......The good news is that French investigating judges ordered his release six times in the past year. One judge even confirmed there was “consistent evidence” Diab was a student in Lebanon during the time of the bombing in 1980."
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