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UPDATE: Sabzali's lawyers have said they are preparing an appeal of his conviction. We will post updates as they become available.
Following the conviction in a U.S. court of James Sabzali for violating the Trading with the Enemy Act, NSCUBA wrote to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Hon. Bill Graham, requesting information on the government's plan of action. Here is his response:
Thank you for your e-mail of April 4, 2002, concerning the case of Mr. James Sabzali, who was convicted in the United States on April 3, 2002, for breaching the U.S. Trading with the Enemy Act and the Cuban Assets Control Regulations.
Commerce between Canada and Cuba is lawful in Canada, subject to generally applicable laws, and Canada would object to an unacceptable assertion of extraterritorial jurisdiction to activities conducted entirely in its jurisdiction.
Mr. Sabzali's situation is complex because he resides in the U.S. and because he was convicted for acts committed in the U.S. as well as in Canada. Canadian government officials are reviewing details of the convictions related to the activities of Mr. Sabzali in Canada to determine the jurisdictional basis for the convictions. However, it should be noted that the majority of the activities for which he was convicted took place in the U.S. and were therefore subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S.
The Government of Canada has expressed its concern to the Government of the United States over the apparent extraterritorial application of U.S. laws with respect to the activities of Mr. Sabzali in Canada, and has requested details. We are in regular contact with Mr. Sabzali's lawyer to ensure that appropriate representations are made on his behalf.
Thank you again for writing.
Tell the Government of Canada what you think!
Minister of Foreign Affairs: Hon. Bill Graham
Minister for International Trade: Pierre Pettigrew
Minister for International Cooperation: Susan Whelan
Secretary of State (Latin America and Africa): Denis Paradis
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