The Mohammed Haneef case attracted new controversy on Sunday, with his lawyer, Peter Russo, accusing the Australian government of conducting a trial by media because the case against his client was so flimsy. Sections of the media reported in their Sunday editions that Haneef was being investigated for being part of a planned terrorist attack in Australia — these reports were swiftly denied by the Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Keelty.
Russo said apparent “leaks” came from the same sources within the government that had condemned the highly controversial release of Haneef’s police interview by his barrister, Stephen Keim.
“What do the prime minister, the attorney-general and the commissioner of federal police think about this latest form of conducting trial by media?” Russo said. “Will each of those persons come out and condemn this attempt to leak purported information in the same way they condemned the release of the record of interview?”
Attorney-General Philip Ruddock declined to comment on the possible source of the claims, as well as media reports that he was considering withdrawing Haneef’s criminal justice certificate, which would lead to his deportation.
Queensland Premier Peter Beattie said the Haneef case was becoming farcical. “I have to say I was quite angry when I read the story this morning sourced from the federal police,” he said.