Haneef's lawyer to press for his release

Haneef's detention, which was extended earlier this week, ends on Wednesday.
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Updated on Jul 11, 2007 04:25 PM IST
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PTI | By, Melbourne

Lawyers for Muhammed Haneef will ask a magistrate to free him on Wednesday, while Australian Federal Police are seeking a third extension of the time for detaining the Indian doctor, who was arrested in connection with the failed car bomb plot in the UK.

As Haneef enters his ninth day in custody without charge, AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty was on Tuesday forced to defend the investigation as being part of "a new world order" not based on conventional policing.

Haneef's detention, which was extended earlier this week, ends on Wednesday.

Haneef's lawyers, civil libertarians and legal experts have criticised the "draconian" anti-terror laws under which police are operating and questioned whether they are doing enough to clear or charge him.

Keelty said anti-terror laws were necessary because evidence was harder to gather than in conventional cases.

Haneef's solicitor Peter Russo said he felt compelled to speak out because his client's continued de fact that we have legislation that basically says that they can detain people...Indefinitely," he said adding "That is a concern because it impacts on a person's whole livelihood.

"Say, for example, a person is detained for a month. What happens to their job? Do they get compensated by the Common Wealth for their loss of income?" he asked.

Criticism of the investigation comes amid revelations that police and intelligence authorities are monitoring the activities of at least 20 Australians identified as potential terrorist risks ahead of September's meeting of world leaders in Sydney.

'The Australian' daily quoted a magazine 'The Bulletin' that said the surveillance is part of the security effort for the meeting of leaders of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation group.

The magazine said intelligence "hard-heads" are convinced the meeting is the top target for radical Islamic terrorists.

It said 20 to 25 people are under constant surveillance, including through telephone, email and mail intercepts, amid fears they represent threats.

Haneef was detained at Brisbane airport on July 2 as he was boarding a flight to India, where his wife, newborn daughter and extended family live.

Russo said an appeal would be considered if Haneef lost out again today but Keelty and Attorney-General Philip Ruddock vowed to detain him as long as necessary.

Earlier this week, a Brisbane magistrate allowed police to hold Haneef for another 48 hours.

Ruddock said he was satisfied with the decision by the magistrate to grant a limited number of days to continue their investigation, while pointing out that more than 120 gigabytes of information had to be reviewed, equal to 31,000 pages of documents.

"This is not a situation in which the police are free agents in relation to holding people," he said.

He defended the continued detention of the Indian doctor, saying if he was released without thorough questioning and a terrible event occurred, civil libertarians would hang the federal government out to dry.

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