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Haneef's visa won't be restored: Australia

The Indian doctor, however, is allowed to leave Australia.

world Updated: Jul 28, 2007 17:37 IST

An Indian doctor cleared of involvement in failed British car bombings will be allowed to leave Australia but his visa will not be restored, Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews said on Saturday.

Andrews said lawyers for Mohamed Haneef sought permission to leave Australia when he was released from custody into "residential detention", or house arrest, on Friday after a terrorism charge against him was withdrawn.

"I have indicated that the Commonwealth has no objection to Dr Haneef leaving Australia," Andrews told reporters.

Andrews said Haneef would eventually have had to leave Australia in any case because his immigration visa was cancelled earlier this month.

The minister's comments came amid media reports that Haneef was at Brisbane airport preparing to depart for India after spending almost four weeks in custody since his arrest on July 2.

He was conditionally freed Friday when the case against him dramatically collapsed after prosecutors admitted they made mistakes as a charge alleging "reckless" support for a terrorist organisation was rushed to court.

While the criminal case against him was dropped, Haneef's immigration status was uncertain as Andrews revoked his visa earlier this month, meaning the doctor's movements were restricted and he had to regularly report to police.

Andrews said the government would continue to fight Haneef's efforts to have his visa restored.

"I do not propose to change my decision and the Commonwealth will continue to resist this appeal in the Federal Court," he said.

Andrews has faced severe criticism for cancelling Haneef's visa and said he would seek to release material, not yet publicly available, on which he based the decision.

The announcement came after Haneef's lawyer said his client was homesick and wanted to return home to his family in the southern Indian city of Bangalore as soon as possible.

"Mohamed is actually very homesick and he's actually probably pining for his wife and child. He's anxious to get back and see his mother," lawyer Peter Russo told reporters.

Haneef was charged because last year he gave a mobile phone SIM card to his second cousin Sabeel Ahmed who has been charged with withholding information following last month's failed bombings in London and Glasgow.