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Solitary confinement for Haneef

Melbourne July 18
Indian doctor Mohamed Haneef will be treated as a “terrorist” while detained in a Queensland jail and subject to special conditions, including solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, an official said today.

Haneef was this morning transferred from police custody to Wolston Correctional Centre in Brisbane’s south-west after failing to meet bail conditions set by Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday.

The 27-year-old Gold Coast Hospital registrar is charged with supporting a terrorist organisation after giving a mobile phone SIM card to a relative later accused of being involved in plotting car bomb attacks in the UK.

Queensland police and corrective services minister Judy Spence said the conditions of his detention included no contact with other inmates, meaning Haneef would be alone in a cell for all but one hour a day, when he is allowed to exercise.

Haneef would also face a different regime to that of other prisoners, she said.

“A terrorist prisoner is required to be held apart from the mainstream prison population, so he will be held in a segregated environment, when he moves around the prison he will be accompanied by two prison officers,” she said.

“Anyone who is charged under terrorist legislation is obviously seen as a greater threat to the good order of our society than other type of prisoners,” she said.

Spence defended the high security around Haneef’s transfer in an armoured police van today. “You have to appreciate he is being treated as a terrorist, that’s the charges against him at this point in time, so it is appropriate that when he is moved from one place to another that he is heavily guarded” — PTI

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Give Haneef all facilities: PM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 18
India today expressed at the highest level its concern on the treatment being meted out to its national Dr Mohammed Haneef in Australia as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh went on record saying that Australia should extend all facilities and rights within its laws to Haneef.

Meanwhile, a key official of the Ministry of External Affairs told this correspondent this evening that New Delhi was taking “all appropriate steps that need to be taken” with Australia to ensure that Haneef is treated justly and fairly. The official was asked whether New Delhi had sent any communication or note verbale after Canberra hardened its stand on Haneef by sending him to prison today and declaring that he would be treated as a “terrorist” during his detention.

The Prime Minister, while speaking to reporters briefly on the sidelines of a book release function here, said: “They ought to extend all the facilities within the law and the rights he is entitled to.” He said the government was in touch with the Australian authorities. The Prime Minister pointed out that the Indian High Commission in Canberra was helping Haneef's family in arranging legal assistance.

The Australian Government so far has not come out with any “evidence” of Haneef being a terrorist.

New Delhi’s perception about the Haneef episode is that it is a minor irritant that is unlikely to adversely impact bilateral relations between India and Australia. At the same time, the officials here are surprised at the Australian government’s hardening of its stand in past couple of days. They cited today’s developments such as Australia revoking the visa of Haneef’s wife and keeping Haneef in solitary confinement for 23 hours in a day.

Of late, India-Australia relations have taken a strategic tinge that is evident from the Quadrilateral Strategic Forum being formed by these two countries, apart from the USA and Japan.

A major problem being faced by the Indian Government is that it does not know what “evidences” the Australian authorities have against Haneef in treating him as a “terrorist”.

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Haneef fears he is being framed

Melbourne, July 18
Mohammed Haneef has said he fears being “framed” in the failed terror plot in the UK and that he is not a radical, as the Indian doctor appealed today against the Australian government’s controversial decision to cancel his work visa.

Haneef, who is charged with giving “reckless” support to his two cousins who are two terror suspects in the UK, was being treated as a “terrorist” after he was moved from police cells in Brisbane to a high-security prison in the same city.

Officials said he would be kept alone in his cell for 23 hours a day, with one hour for exercise.

Haneef in his taped police interview leaked to The Australian newspaper insisted he knew nothing about the terror plot and that he was a Muslim with moderate views.

The doctor revealed that he tried to telephone a British investigator four times to clear his name after learning he was wanted in the terror plot but the calls went unanswered.

Haneef said he feared being “framed” over a mobile phone SIM card he gave to his second cousin, Sabeel Ahmed, who has been charged by the British police.

“I have been a professional until now and I haven’t been involved in any kind of extra activities,” the Bangalore doctor said in the 142-page leaked transcript.

In a surprise move, Justice Spender, while hearing Haneef’s plea, questioned immigration minister Kevin Andrews’ interpretation of the character test used to revoke the doctor’s visa. The federal judge asked on what basis did Andrews justify his “reasonable suspicion” that Haneef had an association with terrorists, saying he (judge) himself would fail the character test.

The judge’s observations came even as protesters gathered in Sydney calling for Haneef’s immediate release from detention.

Australian premier John Howard, meanwhile, played down the risk of a diplomatic rift with India on the Haneef issue.

Howard said, “I don’t see any rift developing in relation to this matter.”

During the brief hearing on Haneef’s appeal, Justice Spender told the immigration department’s counsel: “Unfortunately I wouldn’t pass the character test on your statement because I’ve been associated with people suspected of criminal conduct.”

The counsel agreed that he wouldn’t pass the character test if he were a non-citizen. The hearing on Haneef’s appeal in a federal court in Brisbane against the visa cancellation has been fixed for August 8.

Haneef told Australian federal police agent Adam Simms that he had never had firearms, explosives or terrorist training and denied he had ever been asked “to take part in jihad or anything that could be considered similar to jihad”.

He described jihad as a life struggle rather than a violent revolution. “I haven’t done any of the crimes. And I don’t want to spoil my name and my profession,” the doctor said in the police interview. He, however, admitted that he knew two suspects detained in the UK.

Australian federal police commissioner Mick Keelty said the leaking of the interview, published in The Australian, could jeopardise Haneef’s trial and was being investigated as a possible contempt of court. One of Haneef’s lawyers, Stephen Keim, admitted that he was the source of the leak and said he did it in public interest. — PTI

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Wife’s visa cancelled

Bangalore, July 18
After prolonging his detention, Australia has now revoked the visa of Firdous Arshiya, the wife of Mohd Haneef who is charged with supporting a terror organisation in connection with the failed UK terror plots.

“We received a communication from the Australian authorities last night that her visa has been cancelled,” Arshiya’s father Ashwaq told PTI today.

Reacting to the Australian authorities’ decision, Arshiya said: “I really do not care if my visa has been cancelled. My only concern is that my husband should return safely with all charges cleared”. She said Haneef had a four-year work visa while her’s was a dependent visa.

“Right now, I am not interested in going to Australia,” she said. Earlier, Arshiya had said she was not in a position to fly to Australia given the fact that she had just delivered a baby.

She said that she would be sending her cousin to Australia to look into the case once his visa was cleared. The Australian Government revoked Haneef’s visa, after a magistrate granted him bail. — PTI

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Barrister put out transcript
Denying any wrongdoing in releasing the restricted document, Stephen Keim said he was only responding to “an aggressive campaign of selective leaking” by the authorities...

Melbourne, July 18
A barrister for Indian doctor Mohamed Haneef, charged with providing “reckless” support to a terrorist group in connection with the failed UK terror plot, has admitted to leaking to media a transcript of his client’s first police interview.

In a statement, Stephen Keim said he had released to The Australian newspaper the transcript of the police interview of Haneef following the Indian doctor’s arrest at Brisbane airport on July 2.

Denying any wrongdoing in releasing the restricted document, he said he was only responding to “an aggressive campaign of selective leaking” by the authorities, Skynews channel reported today.

“These leaks could only have been motivated by a desire by those perpetrating them to suggest to the Australian public that the case against Haneef was stronger than the Australian federal police, through their counsel, the Commonwealth DPP (director of public prosecution), had been able to put before the court in Haneef’s bail application,” he said.

Keim said he released the transcript because it provided in full the information the Australian federal police had concerning Haneef at the time of the arrest and the answers the Indian national gave during the interview.

Although access to such transcripts is normally restricted to police, prosecutors and defence lawyers until they are aired in court, Keim said he had no legal obligation to keep the document a secret. — PTI

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