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Dr Haneef gets bail but loses visa

While Haneef's wife accuses Australia of harassing him, India shows concern, reports David McMahon.
Hindustan Times | By David McMahon, Melbourne
UPDATED ON JUL 17, 2007 03:15 AM IST

The Australian government cancelled Dr Mohammed Haneef's visa on Monday, shortly after a court ordered his release on bail on terrorism charges linked to the failed UK bombings.

Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews said Haneef failed a character test and that he had used his powers under migration laws to cancel his visa. "Based on information and advice I have received from the Australian Federal Police I reasonably suspect that Dr Haneef has had or has an association with persons involved in criminal conduct namely terrorism," he said.

In Bangalore, Haneef's wife Firdous Arshiya said: "It is shocking.… whatever the Australian government has done is completely unfair. They are harassing my husband by doing this (cancelling his visa)."

And in Delhi, Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Navtej Sarna said, "The ministry expressed its concern to the Australian government that Dr Mohammed Haneef should be treated fairly and justly under Australian law."

An Australian magistrate on Monday ordered that Haneef be released on A$10,000 (US$8,700) bail, saying he had no known links to a terrorist organisation and that police were not alleging that his mobile phone SIM card had been used in relation to the British terror plot last month.

But within hours of the bail ruling, Andrews said he had cancelled Haneef's visa and ordered him placed in Sydney's Villawood Immigration Detention Centre.

Haneef, 27, has been in custody since July 2 but was only charged on Saturday, sparking criticism by civil-rights groups over his 12-day detention without charge.

Haneef's lawyer Peter Russo said one option for his client was to not post bail. "That's an avenue open to him if he wanted to do it that way," he said.

Andrews said the Australian Federal Police would issue a criminal justice certificate, meaning that Haneef will remain in immigration detention, pending legal proceedings.

The minister said the case was being processed under the criminal justice system in Brisbane. He did not specify a time frame for the process. "Once that processing has been completed, he will be taken into immigration detention," said Andrews.

"Arrangements will be made to relocate him to the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre."

He said the visa cancellation was unrelated to whether Haneef received a fair trial.

Andrews said the Indian-born doctor was not the first person to have a visa cancelled. "It happens on a regular basis where somebody is judged not to pass the character test," he said.

He rejected the suggestion that the cancellation of the visa was a face-saving exercise designed to prove the Australian Federal Police's investigation and detention of Haneef had been justified.

The Australian Doctors Trained Overseas Association said that by revoking Haneef's visa before his trial, the federal government had denied him the presumption of innocence.

Association president Andrew Schwartz said the onus was now on the government to offer proof that Haneef —suspended without pay from his job — was guilty of any wrongdoing.

(With agency inputs)

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