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Australia unlikely to extradite Haneef, says attorney general

Haneef is to remain in custody in Brisbane until Monday while a magistrate decides whether to release him on bail.
AP | By Dennis Passa, Brisbane
UPDATED ON JUL 16, 2007 04:36 AM IST

The Indian doctor accused of supporting the foiled car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow will not be extradited to Britain while he faces charges in Australia, the attorney general said on Sunday.

Mohammad Haneef, 27, was charged on Saturday with providing support to a terrorist organisation by giving his mobile phone SIM card to British suspects Sabeel and Kafeel Ahmed when he moved to Australia in July 2006. He faces a maximum 15 years in prison if convicted. Haneef was ordered to remain in custody in the eastern city of Brisbane until at least Monday while a magistrate decides whether to release him on bail.

Attorney General Philip Ruddock said the case would most likely be tried in Australia. "In relation to extradition, Australia would not normally surrender a person for extradition where there were outstanding matters that had to be dealt with here," Ruddock told Network Ten. The attorney general refused to confirm whether a federal police raid on a house in the western city of Perth late Saturday was related to the British terrorism investigation.
"I'm not specifically aware of the nature of the investigations and nor should I be," Ruddock told Network Ten television.

"But what I can say is the Australian Federal Police have worked assiduously in relation to issues arising from the linkages with the UK bombings, and have put enormous amount of resources and time and effort into very professionally examining any possible links with Australia," he added.

In Britain, police charged Indian doctor Sabeel Ahmed, 26, with withholding information that could prevent an act of terrorism. His brother, Kafeel Ahmed, is believed to have set himself ablaze after crashing an explosives-laden Jeep into the Glasgow airport on June 30.

Sabeel Ahmed was arrested in Liverpool the day of the Glasgow attack and is due to appear in a London court on Monday. Haneef is a distant cousin of the Ahmed brothers, with whom he shared a house in Liverpool, Britain before moving to Australia for a job at a hospital on Queensland state's Gold Coast. Police allege that Haneef provided reckless support for a terrorist group by giving his mobile phone SIM card _ the chip that stores phone numbers and other data _ to Sabeel Ahmed when the left the country.

Authorities allege the SIM card had been used by both Ahmed brothers over the last year, but it was not immediately clear whether the SIM played any role in the foiled attacks. Haneef's lawyer Stephen Keim has slammed the government's case as "extremely weak", saying his client only left the SIM card with Sabeel Ahmed so his cousin could take advantage of a special deal on his mobile phone plan and could not have known of his alleged terrorist links.

Prosecutors have opposed bail for Haneef, saying he could flee the country if released.

Haneef was arrested at Brisbane airport on July 2 while trying to leave the country for India on a one-way ticket.
He claims he was rushing back to India to see his wife and newborn daughter, born June 26, and that he planned to purchase his return ticket in India. Police have said they do not believe Haneef's explanation.

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