Much Ado about Dr. Haneef

July 30, 2007 9:39 PM

I would like to start by saying that I have no problems with the anti-terrorism laws that Australia has in place. However, as we now realise the laws can potentially be used on the wrong person for the wrong reasons which can result in a serious loss of liberty and rights.

So all this started about four weeks ago …

We first heard that Dr. Haneef was arrested at Brisbane Airport with a one-way ticket to India, just a few days after the attacks at Glasgow Airport. He is related to some of the suspects already arrested in the UK. He was arrested on the grounds that a SIM card that he once owned was found on one of the UK suspects in Glasgow.

Suspicious behaviour? Justified arrest? Based on what the public knew at the time, there were no doubts on both.

Then a judge released Dr. Haneef on bail based on the following reasons:

[Magistrate Jacqui] Payne had listed eight reasons for granting bail, including the fact that prosecutors did not allege that Haneef had been directly involved with a terror group.

Among her reasons for granting bail, Payne had said Haneef’s SIM card had not been used in relation to the attempted bombings in London and Glasgow last month.

She also cited Haneef’s good employment record, his lack of a criminal history, and the fact that he was employed as a doctor.

Government cancels suspect’s freedom | The Australian

Never mind that Dr. Haneef was not a flight risk as he had already surrendered his Indian passport, the Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews then decided to immediately withdraw his working visa because in the minister’s point of view, Dr. Haneef has failed the character test to remain in Australia. So essentially, the government is assuming Haneef’s guilt when a court has not decided on it.

A bit heavy-handed? Yup. Haneef would have been sent to a detention camp if he had made bail. Essentially, he’d be going from one jail to another. So what’s the point of making bail then? None, and so Dr. Haneef remained in custody.

And then the big news broke.

THE crucial piece of evidence against the terrorism suspect Mohamed Haneef – that his mobile phone SIM card was found at the scene of a British car bombing – is wrong, the Australian Federal Police have admitted.

Haneef case descends into farce – National –

The Australian police had said that they only acted based on the information given to them by the British police. The British police said that they supplied the correct information to the Australian police, and that it was the Australian police who had bungled things. But who cares really? Dr. Haneef’s life and reputation had now been trashed.

Along with that, it was discovered that Dr. Haneef had applied for emergency leave to see his wife and baby, that he told friends and colleagues about it. His flight had been planned before the attacks in Glasgow. He wasn’t “fleeing justice” in any sense of it.

By now, there was no other choice for the Director of Public Prosecutions but to drop the charges against Dr. Haneef. His only true “crime”? He is related to lousy cousins who were terrorists. Bloody hell.

Haneef released as charges dropped – National –

So he’s now released but he no longer has his visa. And he had been planning to fly back to India to see his wife and then 6-day old infant daughter when he was arrested. Naturally, he wanted to be on the first flight out. If for no other reason, I wouldn’t stay a minute longer in Australia than I have to after what I had gone through the past four weeks. Would you?

But Minister Andrews was not done …

On Friday the charges were dropped and Dr Haneef freed after intense criticism of the federal police and the Director of Public Prosecutions. But Mr Andrews has refused to give back his working visa and yesterday persisted in pointing to Dr Haneef’s potential guilt by saying his quick departure from Australia early yesterday for Bangalore “actually heightens rather than lessens my suspicion”.

I would dob in a terrorist, cousin or not: Haneef – National –

And now the finger pointing can start. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) said that they were supplied bad info. The Director of Public Prosecutions and the Immigration Minister both said that they acted on the AFP’s advice. Even if we allow that mistakes do happen and what a doozy these are, no apology or compensation is forthcoming to Dr. Haneef.

Yet, he’d still consider coming back to Australia if his visa was reinstated. Somehow, in the midst of all the face-saving by the Government now, I doubt that will happen. But damn I have to admire his sense of forgiveness.

Would I return? If I could get a visa – National –

Security at the cost of liberty is not security at all. I’m feeling ever more convinced that I will be voting for the opposition, the Labor party this upcoming federal election. Remember, you get the government you deserve.

Further reading:

17 thoughts on “Much Ado about Dr. Haneef

  1. yurl

    Sigh, you can’t choose family. I’ve got some total losers in my extended family I wouldn’t want to be responsible for anything they did.
    you have to feel for Haneef. The charges against him were proved false. the least he deserves is an apology. I’m glad rule of law prevailed and he’s a free man. but also deeply saddened at continued attempts to maliciously soil his reputation.

  2. blur ting

    Sadly, there are prisons full of people who have been wrongly detained. “sorry, we made a mistake, you may go home now..” What happens to these people after that? The best parts of their lives have gone. Sigh.

  3. mooiness Post author

    yurl: yeah basically guilt by association. I have no problem with that but it has to be backed up by evidence. And in this case, it wasn’t.

    blur ting: that’s right and when they leave, society doesn’t treat them the same anymore.

    awww: I deleted your comment because it was offensive to me as an immigrant who’ve lived here for 20 years, who paid his taxes and have contributed to the society. I’m offended that you are an Australian – you don’t deserve to be one.

  4. Patrick Bateman

    I put it to you that statement 1:

    I would like to start by saying that I have no problems with the anti-terrorism laws that Australia has in place.

    and statement 2:

    However, as we now realise the laws can potentially be used on the wrong person for the wrong reasons which can result in a serious loss of liberty and rights.

    are inconsistent.

    If the laws ‘can’ be used that way, there is something wrong with them. They should be immediately and significantly amended to prevent this scenario from ever playing out again in this country.

    There is something fundamentally wrong with a system which allows for extended detention on the basis of evidence not reviewable by anyone other than the person ordering the detention. It is a recipe for abuse, either accidental or (far more likely) deliberate.

  5. mooiness Post author

    Patrick: point taken. I think what I was trying to say was that the laws are unfortunately necessary, even though this case has shown that they were poorly drafted and badly executed.

  6. Jag

    The problem with the whole “laws” thingy is that the law they used in this case is not as draconian as the newer super dooper we hate muslims and any dissenters laws, which they will now use, based on the political nightmare they got out of the Haneef case.

    That is, they will do it secretly and it would be a crime for the target to speak to anyone about it, for anyone to write about it etc etc.

    This my friends, is fascism

  7. mooiness Post author

    Jag: and that is why a new set of ppl are needed to head the govt., but the cynical part of me wonders if it’s just a lesser of two evils and if it will change anything?

    Even though I want to vote Howard out, Rudd hasn’t done much in this instance to convince me that I should vote for him.

  8. sourrain

    I’m going to play devil’s advocate here

    What if the government, after finding out about the SIM card & blood relations, let Haneef leave, on a one way ticket, to a country where he can easily dissapear?

    What if then he was actually part of the whole shenanigans?

    The people of the world would cry foul and that the AU govt is not doing its job, and is part of this axis of evil crap of letting a criminal go.

    Him being released is, in my 2 pennies, proof enough that the Australian govt is throughly investigating the case, finger pointing aside. Of course, they should have done it before detaining him, but with him leaving the country on a one way ticket, it probably seemed to be the only way to further investigate, by detaining him to ‘help’. And they shouldn’t have announced that they had captured a suspect, rather someone who has been remanded to help in the investigation. This has been an embarrasing episode not only for Dr Haneef, but for for everyone involved, even the government admitting that it is wrong.

    Then again, I can’t really say anything because I do not live in Australia.

  9. mooiness Post author

    sourrain: I am not saying that Haneef should not have been arrested based on the earliest evidence, but as soon as they realised that they’ve made a mistake which was quite early on, they should have released him. Instead, they tried to extend their hold on him and when they knew they’ve lost the case, further tried to assassinate his character to save face.

    Fozzy: hahah good recall on that! there’s that incident and something about children being thrown overboard at sea or something. 😉

  10. sourrain

    ooo I did not realized that they found out that they’ve made a mistake earlier on

    then again, I have spent more than half my life living in a country where you can be detained for a made-up ‘crime’ indefinately with minimum human rights and appalling conditions.A country where they prosecute the freedom of speech. And they call that law. So in my eyes, this is refreshing

  11. mooiness Post author

    sourrain: well yeah if you look at it that way – compared to other more draconian governments, the Aust govt is not that bad but it’s still not something to be proud of.

    Anyways, new info has emerged … I might blog about it when there are more details.

  12. yurl

    yet another 5:30PM info leak.
    I heard a political commentator on the weekend complaining about the government releasing these tantalisingly scandalous tidbits at 5:30 so that news services have to rush them into the evening news unedited and without checking validity.
    Sorry but contextless snippets from an internet chat doesn’t make a smoking gun. Smells of more character assassination to me. If they wanted to prove something release the full conversation.

  13. Kina
    Let us have the whole story, minister
    Continued NEWS 5
    KEVIN Andrews’ highly selective release of fragments of documents and a chat room discussion designed to convict Mohamed Haneef of bad character — or much worse —
    [b]fails to mention a crucial piece of evidence. Missing is that part of Haneef’s phone record that shows he dialled the telephone number of a British police
    investigator several times after he was alerted by his family about the discovery of his SIM card in Liverpool. The police have perfect records of the phone calls. There were three calls between 3.08 and 3.29pm, and another at 4.32pm on the day Andrews is convinced Haneef was trying to flee Australia in an attempt to evade the law.[/b] When Haneef, in detention in the Brisbane watchhouse,was asked by police about those phone calls, he gave the answer the police knew was the only explanation. ‘‘I didn’t get any response to that number,’’ he said. And
    neither had he — the records show the calls were not answered. They were to a British police investigator named Tony Webster. And why was Haneef trying to call a British police investigator on the very day Andrews suggests he was wickedly trying to run from the Australian law?
    His own explanation to the Australian Federal Police during his interrogation in the Queensland watchhouse was simple. On the day before he tried to leave Australia — when he
    already knew of the attempt by his second cousin to bomb Glasgow Airport — the mother of his other second cousin, Sabeel Ahmed, had phoned him from Bangalore, India. She told Haneef that British police had rung her looking for him. She said, according to Haneef: ‘‘There was something wrong with your mobile phone. Someone was misusing the
    thing.’’ [b]And then she gave Haneef the number of Tony Webster. The next day, Haneef tried to call Webster. Four times. Yet there was no mention yesterday by Andrews of this
    attempt by Haneef to co-operate with the British police.[/b] Instead, we learned of splinters of a disembodied chat room


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