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[ENEMY OF THE STATES] Read Minister Graham's Response

UPDATED JAN. 17, 2003
[James Sabzali]

He is the first Canadian "found guilty of violating the U.S. embargo against Cuba" (Steve Eckardt, Canadian Press, 17 September 2002 FULL COVERAGE). James Sabzali was convicted in a U.S. court last April (2002) of selling water purifiers to Cuban hospitals. Of the 20 counts on which he was convicted, eight of those counts relate to sales he made while living in Ontario, operating his own business, and completely within the boundaries of Canadian trade law.

For that, he faces a possible sentence of 205 years in prison and over $5-million in fines if punished to the full extent of U.S. law. Prosecutors are said to be seeking a sentence of 62 months (just over five years). Sabzali's sentencing date has been repeatedly pushed back and is now "indefinitely postponed", though expected sometime in the month of November.

Not only was Sabzali operating within the boundaries of Canadian law, he was in fact compelled by Canadian law (see FEMA) to maintain trade links with Cuba and disobey any attempt by the U.S. to apply its law in an extraterritorial manner.

The Canadian government has registered a "protest" with the American government over the case, with little apparent result. The case has all but dropped off the radar of the Canadian media. It's useful to go back to 1996, when former Canadian Trade Minister Art Eggleton debated the ludicrousness of the Helms-Burton Act under which Sabzali has now been charged... Read the PBS transcript!

Additional reports:

Canada's Globe & Mail (via

Canada's Victoria Times-Colonist (via

Outraged? Demand that Canada intervene with the U.S.:

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

back to: James Sabzali Feature
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