UK terror charges dropped against doctor
By DENNIS PASSA, Associated Press Writer
BRISBANE, Australia - An Indian doctor was freed from custody after Australia's chief prosecutor said Friday that a charge linking him to failed terrorist bombings in Britain was a mistake.
Prosecutors withdrew the charge against Mohamed Haneef in the Brisbane Magistrates Court after a review of the evidence by the federal Director of Public Prosecutions Damian Bugg found that his office should never have recommended it.
AP Photo: In this undated photo provided by Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS), Indian doctor Mohamed Haneef is seen. Australia's top prosecutor on Friday, July 27, 2007 dropped a terror charge against Haneef, who was accused of supporting June's failed bomb attacks on London and Glasgow, Scotland.
"Mistakes are embarrassing. You're embarrassed if you do something wrong," Bugg told reporters in Canberra. "I'm disappointed that it's happened and I will first thing next week try and obtain a better understanding of how it came about."
The government responded by saying Haneef, 27, would be freed from custody while Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews considers whether he will change his decision to revoke the doctor's visa.
Haneef was released from prison in the eastern city of Brisbane. His lawyer Peter Russo would not say where Haneef planned to live while the government reviewed whether to reinstate his visa.
Andrews said Haneef was free to stay where he liked as long as he reported daily to a government official.
His wife, Firdaus Arshiya, told reporters in Bangalore, India, that she hoped her husband would fly home within days.
"I'm happy he's been proved innocent," she said.
E. Ahmed, India's junior foreign minister, said India would support Haneef's request for a bridging visa so that he could leave Australia on his own accord, rather than be deported.
Haneef has been in custody since July 2, when he was arrested at Brisbane International Airport as he was about to fly to India.
Haneef had been charged with providing reckless support to a terrorist organization because he gave his mobile phone SIM card to his second cousin, Sabeel Ahmed, in July last year. He had faced up to 15 years in ...
prison if convicted.
Bugg said there was insufficient evidence to prove the charge, describing the mistake as "upsetting."
British police have charged 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 into Glasgow Airport and remains in a Scottish hospital with critical burns.
In Brisbane, prosecutor Alan MacSporran said authorities had erred in telling the court that Haneef's SIM card had been discovered inside the vehicle used to attack the Glasgow airport. The card was found in the possession of Sabeel Ahmed in Liverpool, more than 185 miles from the attack scene.
A second error related to claims that Haneef had lived with the Ahmed brothers in Liverpool before he moved to Australia from Britain last year. The trio had only spent time together in Britain.
Haneef has denied knowing anything about the British bomb plot, and told police he only gave his SIM card to his cousin so he could take advantage of extra minutes left on the account.
He told police he was rushing to India to join his family because his daughter had been born a few days earlier by emergency Caesarean section.
A court ordered Haneef's release on bail last week, but Andrews kept him in prison by canceling his visa on character grounds, based on information provided by the federal police.
Haneef is due to appeal that decision in court on Aug. 8. If his appeal fails, Haneef could be deported to India, an outcome he opposes.