Australia will not apologise to Haneef

The Australian PM clarifies that Mohd Haneef is unlikely to get his work permit back, reports David McMahon.
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Updated on Jul 31, 2007 12:08 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | By David McMahon, Melbourne

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said on Monday that former Gold Coast hospital registrar Mohamed Haneef is unlikely to get his Australian visa back.

Howard also ruled out an apology to Haneef, who was detained for more than three weeks before a charge of recklessly providing support to a terrorist organisation was dropped on Friday.

"Australia will not be apologising to Dr Haneef," Howard said on the Seven Network’s `Today Tonight’ programme.

He conceded that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had made mistakes in the case, but he stood by Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews' decision to cancel Haneef's visa on character grounds, saying his minister was acting on "secret information".

Andrews is seeking advice from the Commonwealth solicitor-general as to whether he can release the information publicly.

"The question of whether he should have a visa again depends on assessments made as to his associations and I suspend judgment on that," Howard said. "Because I think at the moment the cancellation of his visa was wholly legitimate and I can't see therefore the circumstances in which it's going to be restored, certainly in the near future."

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer backed his government’s refusal to apologise. "What do you expect them to do - fall on the ground and grovel, eat dirt? I mean, get real," Downer said.

Federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd repeated his call for an independent judicial inquiry into the case, saying it was the only way to answer questions "hanging in the air" about the government's treatment of Haneef.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock has described the failed terrorism case as a "circus" played out in the media. He criticised the coverage of the investigation and case against Haneef, which was plagued by leaks from both police sources and the hospital registrar's legal team.

"Any case that is handled essentially through the media is one which is poorly dealt with, because you can never canvas all of the material in the objective way that you would with both parties being able to test it as they do in a court," Ruddock told ABC television.

"Running the issues daily through the media where you pick up aspects of it which can never adequately be replied to, of course, makes a circus of it."

Meanwhile, a Gold Coast doctor who worked alongside Haneef and who was questioned by Australian Federal Police (AFP) this month has been suspended from his job.

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