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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
- Comprehensive summary of Dr. Haneef’s history and the incidents surrounding his arrest:
Just an ordinary life – National – smh.com.au
- His 60-Minutes interview prior to leaving Brisbane:
Doctor may not be gone for long | The Australian
- His Wikipedia entry with comprehensive round-up of facts:
Mohamed Haneef – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia