A lawyer for an Indian doctor who was cleared of UK terrorism charges in Australia signalled Monday that his client may consider suing the Australian government and was planning to appeal against a minister’s decision revoking his visa.
Mohammed Haneef, aged 27, was reunited with his wife and newborn daughter in his home town of Bangalore, India over the weekend after spending nearly a month in an Australian jail on suspicion of supporting last month’s failed car bomb attacks on London and Glasgow.
While he was in custody, immigration minister Kevin Andrews stripped Haneef of his work visa on character grounds, saying there was a reasonable chance he had associated with people involved in criminal activity.
But the doctor was released on Friday after the nation’s top prosecutor, Damian Bugg, dropped the charge saying there was not enough evidence linking him to the plot.
Lawyer Peter Russo said today he still had plans to appeal against the minister’s decision to strip Haneef’s visa, in the Federal Court on August 8.
Russo also indicated that Haneef may be planning to sue the Australian government and suggested the government consider issuing an apology.
“He is not expecting one (an apology) but I guess if the people who are in line for being sued want to mitigate their losses they might want to think about apologies,” he said.
Andrews said he relied on secret police information to make his decision and has vowed not to reinstate the visa unless the court orders him to do so.
“The cancellation of the visa was on character grounds, and what the legislation provides is that there is a reasonable suspicion ... this man has had associations with people engaged in criminal conduct,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio.
“Hopefully when people see the further information ... they’ll be able to see that there are more circumstances which haven’t been made available to them to date.”
Haneef had been charged with providing reckless support to a terrorist organisation because he gave his mobile phone SIM card to one of his second cousins, Sabeel Ahmed, when he left Britain last July.
British police have charged Ahmed, 26, with withholding information that could have prevented an act of terrorism. His brother, Kafeel Ahmed, is in hospital with critical burns after an explosives-laden