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Australia allows relative to meet Haneef today

Meanwhile, Australian police deny charges that they had doctored the Indian's diary, reports David McMahon.

world Updated: Jul 24, 2007 04:48 IST
David McMahon

The Australian state and federal authorities on Monday accorded permission to Dr Mohammed Haneef’s relative from India to meet him, even as the Australian Federal Police (AFP) strongly denied charges that they had tampered with Haneef’s diary to bolster their case against him.

Dr Haneef has been detained since July 2 for his alleged links with those who plotted the failed terrorist attacks in Britain in end June.

Dr Haneef's lawyer Peter Russo said he initially had some trouble getting clearance for the Indian relative Imran Siddiqui's meeting with his client.

Siddiqui arrived in Brisbane on Saturday. “I think there was just an issue in relation to criminal history checks, because Imran comes from overseas,” he said.

Earlier Australian media reports alleged that police officials had written in the names of some overseas terror suspects in Dr Haneef's personal diary to implicate him further.

AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty, however, strongly denied the charge. “Police at no time made any notations or additions to Haneef's diary,” he said. “As the matter is currently before the court, it is not appropriate for the AFP to elaborate in greater detail.”

With support for Dr Haneef growing by the day, the Law Council of Australia on Monday called on federal Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews to issue him a special bridging visa — since his earlier visa had been cancelled — which would enable Dr Haneef to live outside jail until he faces trail.

In response the authorities accused Dr Haneef’s legal team of waging a campaign to undermine anti-terror laws through a series of leaks to the media. Keelty reminded Dr Haneef’s lawyers that releasing police interviews before they were presented to a court risked undermining the legal process.

“When misinterpreted or taken out of context — and in the absence of other material that will be placed before the court — this has the potential to undermine the court process,” he said. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer too questioned the national attitude towards curbing threats to security. “I do worry about the resolve that we have to confront and defeat terrorism,” he told the television channel, Nine Network.

“Every time there is somebody arrested and facing charges, there's some sort of controversy about ‘oh the poor thing, he must be innocent, this is all being cooked up for some particular reason’,” he said.