Mon, Jul 23, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Police rebut media claims in Haneef case

BARRAGE OF CRITICISM Lawyers claimed the doctor is being tried in the media after a leak said police were investigating whether he planned to blow up a building


Australian police denied newspaper reports yesterday which said they were investigating whether an Indian doctor detained on terror charges may have been plotting to blow up a high-rise building on the Gold Coast.

Lawyers for Mohamed Haneef earlier criticized the reports, which said police were studying photographs of the landmark building and its foundations seized in a raid on their client's home in Queensland three weeks ago.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP), which earlier refused to confirm or deny the allegations made in the Sunday Mail newspaper and Melbourne's Herald Sun, said in a statement the reports were inaccurate.

"We will be taking the extraordinary step of contacting Dr Haneef's lawyer to correct the record," AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty said in a statement.

Police took the unusual step of commenting on media speculation following a barrage of criticism from Haneef's lawyers and politicians over the way the case was being handled.

Lawyers for Haneef, who is charged over links for failed bomb attacks in Britain last month, earlier said their client was being tried in the media and called on government ministers and police to address the issue.

Australia moved on Friday to calm Indian concerns over Haneef's detention after media reports said Haneef's mobile phone SIM card had not been found in a burning car at a Glasgow airport terminal as police have alleged in court, undermining the case against the 27-year-old doctor.

A relative of Haneef arrived in Australia from India at the weekend to provide moral support.

Imran Siddiqui, a cousin of Haneef's wife, Firdaus Arshiya, spoke yesterday to a crowd of supporters in the eastern city of Brisbane, where he arrived the day before from Bangalore in southern India.


"Back home, we are all saying that Haneef is the victim of circumstances," said Siddiqui.

"I think authorities should definitely ... think about this and see that ... innocent people are not being targeted," he said.

Siddiqui said he had sought permission to visit Haneef in jail, and that he wanted to give him a photograph of his newborn daughter.

Haneef was arrested as he tried to leave Australia for India with a one-way ticket. Haneef told police he was rushing to join his family because his daughter had been born a few days earlier by emergency Cesarean section.

Haneef is charged with recklessly supporting terrorism by providing a relative in Britain with his SIM card.

He has not entered a plea to the charges and remains in jail after the government canceled his visa and ordered he be kept in immigration detention, despite a magistrate earlier ruling he could be released on bail.

Three have been charged in the UK over the attacks, including Haneef's second cousin, Sabeel Ahmed, 26, who is accused of failing to disclose information that could have prevented an act of terrorism.

Another of Haneef's second cousins, Kafeel Ahmed, is under police guard in hospital after being badly burned when a jeep was driven into an airport terminal in Glasgow and set ablaze.

After he was arrested, Haneef told police that when he was about to leave for Australia in July 2006, he left his SIM card with Sabeel to use.

ABC radio and local newspapers said Friday sources in Australia and Britain had confirmed the SIM card was found on Sabeel, and not in the burning car as Australian police had alleged in court.

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