Freed terror suspect Muhammad Haneef's saga took a new twist on Wednesday, with the Australian government challenging the federal court decision to reinstate the Indian doctor's 457 work visa.
Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews had vowed to appeal against the August 21 decision by Acting Chief Justice Jeffery Spender of the Federal Court in Brisbane who ruled that the minister had made a jurisdictional error when he cancelled Haneef's visa on grounds of character.
While lodging an appeal against Spender's decision setting aside the cancellation, the Australian government's solicitor also sought an extension to the stay on Haneef's visa.
Andrews said: "It is a privilege for visitors to be granted a visa to be in Australia, it is not an inalienable right. The security of the nation and the protection of all Australians comes first.
"As minister, I made the decision to cancel Dr Haneef's visa in the national interest and I stand by that decision. It was the correct decision for the national interest and I believe that Justice Spender is wrong in his interpretation of the legislation."
While delivering his ruling, Spender had said the minister should have cancelled it on the grounds that Haneef was a person of interest to British authorities and that he had been charged with an offence. However, Andrews may not be able to make a decision on those grounds now.
Haneef's 457 work visa was cancelled July 16 by Andrews hours after he was granted bail by a Brisbane magistrate. The minister, like other members of the John Howard government, cited character grounds and national security as the reason for Haneef's visa cancellation.
The 27-year-old Bangalore doctor was arrested holding a one-way ticket to India July 2 by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) at Brisbane International Airport in connection with the foiled British bomb plots in June.
He was charged with supporting a terrorist organisation by "recklessly" giving his mobile phone SIM card to people planning the London and Glasgow bomb attacks.
He was incarcerated in Australia for 25 days and flew home to Bangalore July 27 after charges against him were dropped.