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Aus cops won't reveal details of Haneef interrogation

August 17, 2007 09:58 IST

Australian Federal Police is trying to suppress the transcript of their second interview with Indian doctor Mohammed Haneef, held in connection with the failed car bombing of Glasgow Airport, though Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews already selectively quoted from it.

The AFP has provided Haneef's lawyers with the transcript of the 12 hours they interrogated the Indian doctor before charging him on July 14 with providing resources to a terrorist organisation.

That charge was dropped when the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions decided there was not a reasonable prospect of conviction.

Haneef's lawyers were given the interview transcript on August 8, the day the doctor's appeal against Andrews' decision to cancel his work visa on character grounds was heard in the Federal Court, The Age reported on Friday.

In an accompanying letter, the manager of the AFP's domestic counter-terrorism unit asked Haneef's lawyers not to make the transcript public.

"AFP is concerned that some of the information revealed to your client during this interview could, if disclosed publicly, have the potential to prejudice ongoing and future police operations; and/or give rise to a claim that a defendant cannot have a fair trial," the manager said.

The letter stated that the transcript had been provided in confidence, and said that if it was made public, Haneef's lawyers were to contact the AFP.

In a reply sent on August 13, Haneef's lawyer, Peter Russo, asked why his client was not to release the transcript, when AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty had authorised Andrews "to release selective portions of a chatroom conversation involving our client in a way which was unfair and misleading and had the effect of slandering our client's good name both in Australia and internationally."

As part of his justification for his decision to cancel Haneef's visa, Andrews revealed parts of an online chat the doctor had with his brother just before he attempted to leave Australia in the wake of the failed car bombings in Britain.

During the conversation, Haneef's brother tells him "nothing has been found out about you."

In his letter, Russo also pointed out that the charges against Haneef had been dropped, and said that there was nothing in the Crimes Act that prevented Haneef from doing whatever he wished with his record of interview.

"I'm a bit confused as to why they're doing this, or what they hope to achieve," Russo said adding, "they think they're above the law and can do what they like."

Russo, who was present during the police interview, said that in his opinion nothing was discussed that could compromise any investigation.

The Federal Court ruling on Haneef's visa is due next week.

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