Let’s put aside all the issues about the fairness and legality (revoking the visa was completely within the Immigration Minister’s right) and have a look at the operational blunders.
If I was the government and I wanted Haneef to remain in the country so that I can incarcerate him for however long as I wish, I would not have revoked his visa. In fact I would have let him out on bail and tailed him throughout the trial which at the point was still being conducted.
He had no passport, and the surveillance would most likely be heavy enough that he would not pose an imminent threat to the community, if he really was a terrorist. This was what the Australian Federal Police had intended to do before Minister Andrews preempted them.
Mr Andrews’ decision, taken after discussions with John Howard and the national security committee of cabinet, caught the AFP by surprise. Investigators had already planned how they would tail a bailed Dr Haneef on the Gold Coast.
There were also inconsistences in the statements by Minister Andrew regarding the revoking of Haneef’s visa.
In the meantime [after charges had been dropped], Mr Andrews said Dr Haneef would be held in “residential detention” only, meaning he was free to move about in the community.
Yet only 11 days earlier, Mr Andrews had said part of the reason for revoking Dr Haneef’s visa was for “the protection of the Australian community”.
If I was the government, I would wait till the trial had run its course and then decide on the visa. I’d still have time to detain him under immigration laws if the trial did not go my way. What was the hurry?
And if I could not hold him in the country any longer, and he had wanted to leave, the end result would be the same as what we have now. Except with less embarassment and less “foot in the mouth” moments. With cooperation from the Indian police which is happening currently, Haneef could still be investigated and charged if warranted.
Indian anti-terror police last night warned Dr Haneef they wanted to “interrogate” him over his links to alleged British bombers Sabeel and Kafeel Ahmed. Officers of the Anti-Terrorism Squad in Bangalore were reported to have called at Dr Haneef’s family home and told relatives to pass on the message they wanted to speak to him.
The joint Commissioner of Police in Karnataka state, Gopal B. Hosur, told The Australian last night it was likely that Dr Haneef would be called for questioning in a few days.
As it is, everyone involved in this debacle: the Australian Federal Police and its commissioner Mick Keelty, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions Damien Bugg, Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews, and even the PM John Howard, Attorney General Philip Ruddock, and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer – all of them, have been made to look very foolish.
The IM Transcript
And regarding the transcript of the instant-message conversation between Haneef and his brother, if an English translation of the excerpt can be released, why not the original version in Urdu? What’s the harm? I can understand the assertion that releasing the entire transcript may jeapordise investigations, but not the above.
Is there something dodgy with the translation or what?
Also, Kevin Andrews released this transcript without mentioning that Haneef had tried to contact British police on at least four occasions.
Police transcripts reveal that Dr Haneef tried to call British police from Australia four times after the bombings.
Dr Haneef has reportedly said he wanted to tell the police that he had left a SIM card with a cousin who was implicated in the attacks.
It has been called this a while back and it still is a complete “farce”. Right-wingers call us “bleeding hearts” and for letting potential terrorists take advantage of our laws and democracy to wreak havoc. But all that we are asking for is good governance and transparency. Both of which are sorely lacking with regards to the handling of Dr. Haneef.