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Home > News > PTI

Come clean on secret plan: Haneef's lawyer

Natasha Chaku in Melbourne | November 02, 2007 09:03 IST

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Indian doctor Mohammed Haneef's [Images] lawyer has asked the Australian police and Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews to come clean on a so-called "secret plan" to thwart a court's decision to release the former terror suspect on bail.

Haneef's lawyer Peter Russo has obtained a copy of an email under Freedom of Information laws that shows contingencies had been developed in case the Gold Coast doctor was freed by Brisbane Magistrate Jacqui Payne.

The email, written by Brisbane-based counter-terrorism coordinator David Craig to commanders of the Australian Federal Police's counter-terrorism unit on July 14 was forwarded to Immigration Department public servant Peter White on July 16, Russo said.

The Indian doctor was arrested in connection with the failed terror plots in London [Images] and Glasgow this year.

Haneef, who maintained his innocence throughout the ordeal, was granted bail by the court in the terrorism related charge because of the Australian Federal Police's weak case against him.

However, he was kept behind bars after Andrews revoked his visa.

Russo said the email was another piece of information to be used in his fight to reinstate Haneef's visa.

"This document is a significant piece in the jigsaw of information available and I hope that the parties of this conversation come clean," Russo was quoted as saying in The Australian newspaper.

"Someone had put a contingency plan in place to have him detained," he said, adding the fact that the only person
who could cancel the visa was the immigration minister directly links Andrews to the contingency plan. 

Andrews, while revoking Haneef's visa, had said the decision was based on his responsibilities under the Migration Act, on advice from AFP and a character test which Haneef had failed.

Commenting on the email, Andrews's spokeswoman on Friday said there was no reason for the minister to see confidential emails which suggest a secret plan was in place to keep then terror suspect Mohammed Haneef behind bars.

"He didn't see the emails. He hasn't seen the emails. Never heard of the police officer (mentioned)," an Australian news agency quoted her as saying.

She said White could have received the email and failed to hand it on to the minister, but maintained the minister had a healthy relationship with the department.

"There would be no reason for the minister to be seeing such (emails) because they are completely unrelated to his actual decision," she said, adding, "Andrews first considered revoking Haneef's visa on July 16 and that was the only time he considered detaining the doctor.

The visa cancellation was entirely unrelated to the criminal proceedings and the bail hearing. I mean the cancellation of the visa is entirely a matter for the minister. It's only something that the minister can decide so there is no way that anyone could have known what the minister would decide," she added.

The charge against Haneef -- of supporting a terrorist organisation -- was later dropped by prosecutors and a federal court judge overturned the minister's decision to cancel his visa.

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