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Australia may deport Indian doctor Haneef

As per reports in Australian media, the charges against the 27-year-old from Bangalore are set to be dropped.
IANS | By HT Correspondent
UPDATED ON JUL 22, 2007 09:35 PM IST

Australia may deport Indian doctor Muhammad Haneef as the case against him of supporting the botched terror plots in Britain last month has collapsed, though his wife on Sunday insisted charges against him must be dropped before sending him home.

The Sun Herald newspaper reported that the charges against the 27-year-old doctor from Bangalore were set to be dropped.

It said the inept handling of the case by police had damaged Prime Minister John Howard's government just months away from a general election and frayed diplomatic relations with India.

An unnamed government source was quoted as saying that with the deportation "the story ends there and he can become someone else's problem", DPA reported.

Australian Federal Police (AFP) had charged Haneef of giving his mobile phone SIM card to his second cousin Sabeel, who has been detained in Britain for the failed terror attempts in London and Glasgow.

Haneef has admitted to giving the SIM card to Sabeel, so that the latter could take advantage of an "extra-minute deal" offered by mobile service provider O2.

AFP initially said the SIM card was found from the blazing jeep that was driven into the Glasgow airport terminal building, but now admit it was found from a house in Liverpool.

However, Haneef's wife Firdous Arshiya said in Bangalore she was against the reported move to deport him without dropping the charges against him.

Arshiya said she was awaiting an official word from Australia on its plans for Haneef, detained in Brisbane since July 2 while waiting with a one-way ticket for a flight to India and charged with being linked to his cousin and terror suspect Sabeel Ahmed in Britain as well as Sabeel's brother Kafeel Ahmed who allegedly drove the burning jeep into the Glasgow airport terminal building June 30.

Arshiya, a software engineer, said she stood by her earlier statement that she preferred her husband to face trial and come out clean rather than being sent home with a stigma.

She took that stand after Australian Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews revoked Haneef's visa within hours of his getting bail from a Brisbane court last week.

Arshiya said her cousin Imran Siddiqi, who flew to Brisbane Saturday, had called to inform that he had met Haneef's lawyers to discuss the charges against him.

Siddiqi had not given any indication when he is likely to meet Haneef, she said. She said she has sent a photo of the couple's baby girl, born in Bangalore June 26, to be shown to her husband.

Siddiqui told a gathering in Brisbane that Haneef was innocent. "Back home we are all saying that Haneef is the victim of circumstance. We want him to come home with a clear charge," he was quoted as saying in a DPA report.

Meanwhile, Australian media reports said police suspected the Indian of plotting to blow up a landmark building on the Gold Coast, where he worked as doctor.

Peter Russo, his lawyer, said he had heard of the reports, and added: "A link to a tall building and a link to Sep 11 can only do one thing in the public arena and that's create fear."

Haneef, meanwhile, remains in solitary confinement at Wolston Correctional Centre in Brisbane's southwest after failing to post the AU$10,000 bail surety.

If the bail conditions were met, he would have been moved to the Villawood immigration detention centre in Sydney following the cancellation of his '457 work visa'.

Haneef's legal team has until Monday afternoon to prepare an affidavit for the Aug 8 Federal Court appeal against the cancellation of his visa.

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