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Haneef can sue Australian Govt

A prominent lawyer says Mohamad Haneef can sue the Australian government for wrongful imprisonment and defamation.

india Updated: Dec 21, 2007 17:50 IST

Mohamad Haneef can sue the Australian Government for wrongful imprisonment and defamation, a lawyer has said noting that Canberra's decision to cancel his visa and not officially clear his name had adversely affected his work prospects.

Prominent Brisbane lawyer Mark O'Connor said Haneef had been unemployed since returning to India five months ago, because the cancelled work visa effectively barred him from working in most western countries.

Also, public comments by former Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews about Haneef, and questions about his character raised by the minister might now be regarded as defamatory, he said.

O'Connor said an admission by Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty that he warned prosecutors there was insufficient evidence to charge the former Gold Coast Hospital registrar, who was charged anyway, could help Haneef in any compensation claim.

"Andrews made public remarks about Haneef without disclosing exactly what information he was basing his remarks on. If it was found that the information did not support his claims, and the Federal Police knew they did not have a case against Dr Haneef, then he could have grounds for a defamation action," O'Connor said.

He said the Gold Coast doctor had endured a thorough character denunciation through his detention on a terror-related charge which was finally abandoned, according to "The Australian'.

"There has been no apology from the Government, which from a compensation angle is quite important. The Minister not only refused to reinstate Haneef's work visa, but said he still had suspicions about his character."