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Haneef's case was weak, show Australian documents

Last updated on: May 16, 2008 09:56 IST

The Australian police orchestrated to have Mohamed Haneef, wrongly accused of involvement in the failed UK car bombings, indefinitely detained in the country despite their own intelligence revealing the case was weak.

Documents released under freedom-of-information laws have revealed that at the time Mohamed Haneef was charged with a terrorism-related offence, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions was aware that the case against him was weak, The Age newspaper reported on Friday.

The inference was contained in a letter from the federal police to the Department of Foreign Affairs and it advised that Haneef was likely to be granted bail, despite the seriousness of the charge.

"Under 15AA Crimes Act 1914  bail can be granted for offences only in exceptional circumstances  CDPP advise they think it likely that Haneef will be granted bail," the letter said, adding "CDPP would consider appealing, however a stronger case would need to be presented by police."

The letter was written the day after Haneef was charged with providing support to a terrorist organisation, and the day before he was granted bail.

The documents, that were obtained by Haneef's lawyers, also cited that within days of Haneef's arrest federal police officers started to prepare to keep him in detention in case a magistrate ordered his release.

As early as July 3, the day after Haneef's arrest, a meeting of the National Counter-Terrorism Taskforce discussed applying for a preventative detention order against him. Two days later the federal police requested information from British authorities to help gain such an order, the report said.

"The CT (Counter-Terrorism) Controls Team has been asked to consider an application for a preventative detention order and/or control order for Mohamed Haneef in the event that options under Part IC Crimes Act 1914 are exhausted and he is subsequently released," a cable to London read.

Police also discussed with immigration officials about the possibility of revoking Haneef's visa and keeping him in immigration detention.

"There was a recognition reasonably early in the piece that they weren't going to be able to have anything of substance on Dr Haneef and were therefore looking at alternative means to detain him," Haneef's lawyer Rod Hodgson told the daily.

The FOI documents showed that inter-agency activity stepped up on July 11, nine days after Haneef's arrest. Early that day, lawyers for Haneef applied for magistrate Jim Gordon, who was the magistrate who had already extended the
authority to detain Haneef several times, to disqualify him.
That afternoon, the federal police supplied the Immigration department with information to support removing Haneef's visa and close to evening the former immigration minister, Kevin Andrews, had that information.

"They appear to have been developing a contingencyplan and colluding to formulate that contingency plan," Hodgson said, adding "The evidence given to Andrews has been excised from the documents. It has been reported that Andrews was not told of information suggesting Haneef's innocence."

Haneef, 27, was charged with helping a terrorist organisation after his SIM card was allegedly found with a cousin linked to the failed UK car bombings. The charges were dropped later but the government revoked his work visa on "character grounds".

Haneef's lawyers have forwarded the 1,351 pages released under freedom-of-information laws to John Clarke, QC, who is heading Haneef inquiry.