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Haneef visa: Aus seeking advice on releasing of details

Australian PM John Howard says the government was still seeking advice on what details it could release about cancelling Indian doctor Mohamed Haneef's visa.

world Updated: Jul 31, 2007 11:02 IST

Australian Prime Minister John Howard on Tuesday said the government was still seeking advice on what details it could release about cancelling Indian doctor Mohamed Haneef's visa.

Howard said the government was seeking advice about what information it could release that had been available to Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews when he made his controversial decision to cancel the Australian visa of Haneef, who was detained for nearly a month on terror charges before those were dropped, media reports said in Melbourne.

Andrews on Tuesday said that he had been advised not to release information he used while deciding to cancel Haneef's visa, as that could "jeopardise the investigation".

But he is on Tuesday expected to release advice from Solicitor General David Bennett QC that says he acted correctly when he cancelled the Gold Coast-based doctor's visa on suspicions that he had association with people involved in criminal activity.

The actual information on which that decision was based may be kept secret.

Federal Education Minister Julie Bishop refused to publicly support the embattled Andrews.

Bishop, asked if she supported Andrews' handling of the case, replied: "I'm a member of cabinet."
Asked if his future was shaky, she added: "Today's not the occasion for me to discuss government policy."
When pressed, Bishop refused to comment any further.

Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile said Australians should not lose confidence in federal and state law enforcement agencies because of the controversial detention.

"The most important thing that we need to focus on at the moment is that the broader community doesn't lose confidence, nor we should we undermine the effectiveness of our law enforcement agencies," Vaile told reporters.

Under a storm of criticism for his decision to cancel the visa just after Haneef was granted bail by a Queensland court on now abandoned terror charges, Andrews had said he wanted to show why he had terminated the visa on "character" grounds.

Andrews and the Australian Federal Police had indicated the decision to cancel the visa had been made on basis of information not provided to the court.

But on ABC radio this morning, Andrews said the information may not be released after discussions with Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty.

"One of the difficulties in this regard ... Is that there is an ongoing investigation both in Australia and in the UK, and the Commissioner of the AFP Keelty has said to me that this protected material, if released, could jeopardise that investigation," he said.