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Aus police tampered with Haneef's diary

Last updated on: July 23, 2007 08:55 IST

In yet another embarrassment to Australian police, it was revealed on Monday that investigating officers wrote the names of overseas terror suspects in Indian doctor Mohammed Haneef's personal diary and later grilled him during an interrogation over whether he had written the notes.

The revelation came hours after AFP chief Mick Keelty dismissed reports of Haneef's suspected involvement in a plot to attack the Gold Coast's tallest building.

The report in The Australian stated that investigating AFP officers wrote the names of overseas terror suspects in Haneef's personal diary, only to later grill him during an interrogation over whether he had written the potentially incriminating notes.

The mistake was revealed in the record of the first interview between Haneef and two officers from the AFP's counter-terrorism force, Queensland Detective Sergeant Adam Simms and Federal Agent Neil Thompson.

Towards the end of the interview, which occurred soon after Haneef was arrested at Brisbane International Airport on July 2 for allegedly providing support to a terrorist organisation, Sergeant Simms states: "In your diary, you had handwritten notes. Is this your writing?"

Haneef responded "No. This is not my writing. Definitely not."

After suspending the interview, the officers returned to the question of the handwritten notes, including the name and contact details of the alleged suicide bomber Kafeel Ahmed, a second-cousin of Haneef.

Sergeant Simms stated, "Now, as I was alluding to, or as I was going to show you. Police who have been looking through your diary have found some handwritten notes in the back of your diary. And one of these handwritten notes is details of Kafeel Ahmed. Telephone numbers and looks like an address. A couple of addresses. Now, that writing there, is that your writing?"

When Haneef again denied it is his writing, Sergeant Simms left the room. He returned and said "Thought that might have been the case. In fact, it's not. This is what's been written by police. So it's not your handwriting at all."

The blunder over Haneef's diary was exposed during an analysis of the leaked 142-page record of interview, and followed the arrival in Australia on Saturday night of Imran Siddiqui, the cousin of Haneef's wife, who said he was in Australia to "bring him home."

Despite Keelty's denial of the claim linking Haneef to a threat against the Q1 building, he has, during the three-week investigation, been silent on previous leaks to the media which Haneef's lawyer claimed were prejudicial to the Gold Coast doctor.

At Griffith University in Brisbane on Sunday, Haneef's lawyer Peter Russo, who was with him when questioned for the second time by AFP detectives last weekend, said there had been no specific questions along the lines of a threat against the Q1 building.

Russo said he hoped Siddiqui could visit Haneef on Monday.

The apparent flaws in the investigation are causing unease among Federal Labur MPs, who until now have provided "in-principle" support to the federal government.

Former opposition frontbencher Duncan Kerr praised the Haneef defence team and the media.

"What reassures me is those parts of civil society we rely on for rule of law, lawyers with courage, the media, these matters are being exposed to public scrutiny," Kerr said.

Several Labor MPs expressed anxiety over the government's handling of the the Indian-born doctor.

Meanwhile, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer on Monday accused opposition the Labor party of trying to undermine the Australian Federal Police for political purposes.

Premier of Queensland state Peter Beattie has compared the police handling of Haneef's terrorism investigation to the 'Keystone Cops'.

But Downer claimed Beattie was taking up the attack on the police investigation on behalf of opposition leader Kevin Rudd.

Downer said the courts, not the media, should be deciding the merits of the case against Haneef.

"Let the court decide on these things, let's not have the media trying to hear the whole case before the court does -- that's the job of the court," he said.

A media report published on Monday said, "It was the last thing Keelty needed after weeks of controversy over the Haneef case, including British police sources describing Australian police as "a laughing stock" after the revelation that the crucial claim against the doctor -- that his SIM card was found at the scene of a Glasgow bombing attempt -- was false."

Natasha Chaku in Melbourne
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