The charges against Dr Mohammed Haneef may have been dropped, but questions relating to his future remain.
When he can fly back to India? Since his visa stands cancelled, will he be deported or will he be given special travel documents? How he will he meet the legal expenses he has incurred? Does he have a fair chance of being compensated by the Australian government for the trauma he has undergone?
He is a free man now, but without a passport and visa, he is severely restricted in a foreign country. Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews cancelled his visa on 16 July — just hours after a magistrate granted him bail — on character grounds, which effectively kept him in detention.
He has been released from jail, yet immediately he has nowhere to go. He cannot return to the apartment he had rented, because his contract has been terminated for non-payment of rent. The apartment itself, twice ransacked by police searching for non existent clues to his terrorist activities, is being refurbished and repainted.
Haneef is free, yet his presence in the wider community presents a special challenge for the Department of Immigration. Andrews said,
“He is free to move about in the community, but as a matter of legal principle... he is formally in detention.’’ He has to telephone the police every day and inform them where he is, and visit his local police station once a week.
Only when he gets back to India can Haneef start thinking seriously about the future. He has been offered back his position at the Gold Coast, but is unlikely to take it. His wife Arshiya Firdous is determined that they should never return to Australia.
“I don't want to go back there, but I will listen to his point (of view),” she told the Hindustan Times.
“He has been proved innocent and the whole world now knows that.” Wherever the couple settles ultimately, she is keen they undertake the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca at the earliest. Her cousin Imran Ahmed Siddiqui, now in Australia to provide Haneef moral and emotional support to Dr Haneef, also said it was too early to ask the doctor about his plans.
“Haneef has been told (by Australian authorities) not to talk to the media till Monday (when the visa application will be moved). He spoke to his wife after he came out of solitary confinement, and has taken everything positively. We had a long day today and we have the visa issue coming up soon. I can't say how long it will take to leave for India,” he told HT.