Australia: Indian doctor released on bail, detained under immigration laws

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Monday, July 16, 2007

After being charged on Saturday and having his bail hearing adjourned until today, Indian doctor Mohamed Haneef has been granted bail for allegedly supporting terrorists. The Australian federal government has since cancelled Dr Haneef's work visa, causing him to be held in immigration detention.

Haneef was charged with providing support to a terrorist organisation after a SIM card registered to him was found in the possession of an alleged terror bomber in the UK. It is claimed that the two alleged bombers are distant cousins of Dr Haneef's.

Dr Haneef was granted AU$10,000 bail in the Brisbane Magistrate's Court where the magistrate said that Haneef had no known links to a terrorist organisation and that there were no allegations that the SIM card had been used in the planned attacks on Glasgow and London.

Australian Immigration minister Kevin Andrews said he believed Dr Haneef had failed a character test, which allows him to cancel Haneef's visa under immigration laws. "I reasonably suspect that he has or has had an association with persons engaged in criminal activity, criminal conduct, namely terrorism in the UK," said Mr Andrews.

Mr Andrews said Haneef would be detained in Brisbane pending his charges being dealt until arrangements can be made to move him to Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney.

A certificate notifying the government of Haneef's charges will be issued by the Australian Federal Police, which will allow the government to detain Haneef in immigration detention while his charges are being dealt with.

Minister Andrews defended his decision claiming it was his responsibility to cancel Haneef's visa. Andrews said that Haneef has or has had an association with people involved in criminal conduct and this constitutes failure of a character test.

When questioned on whether or not his decision was an indirect revocation of Haneef's bail the immigration minister said "The magistrate in Brisbane has a set of responsibilities which she has carried out and I'm making no comment whatsoever on the magistrate or any decision made by the magistrate".

When Haneef's criminal charges have been dealt with, the minister's move means that he will be deported when he is acquitted or upon the completion of any sentence imposed.

Haneef will reappear in court on August 31.

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