Sydney, Apr 14: Powerful evidence of Bangalore-born Doctor Mohamed Haneef's innocence has emerged at the Old Bailey in London, evidence the Australian Federal Police and the Commonwealth Director of Prosecutions appeared to have ignored in holding him for questioning last year and then charging him with a terrorism offence. The case against Dr Haneef always centred on allegations that his second cousin Sabeel Ahmed, a doctor practising in England, was part of a terrorist organisation.
But in the Old Bailey on Friday Mr Justice Calvert-Smith accepted there was "no sign" of Ahmed "being an extremist or party to extremist views". Evidence of this was in the hands of British police from the early days of their investigation into failed car bombings carried out by Ahmed's brother Kafeel last year. But it only saw the light of day in the Old Bailey last Friday. Its publication raises difficult questions for Australian police and the Commonwealth DPP, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. Not stated in court was how long it took police to find the Kafeel Ahmed's jihad confession.
On the other side of the world by this time, the Ahmeds' second cousin Dr Haneef was spending his third day in the Brisbane watch house after being taken into custody trying to leave Australia. He was being held without charge under tough new laws that allow terrorism suspects to be detained indefinitely for questioning. Australian police were focused on an old SIM card the doctor had left with Sabeel, which they believed was somehow involved in Kafeel's failed bomb plots. Both police and the Commonwealth DPP were undeterred by the discovery at some point during Dr Haneef's detention that this was not true.
Nor were they deterred by the jihad confession even though it showed Sabeel was not in league with his brother Kafeel. Leaving an old SIM card with the Liverpool doctor could carry no sinister meaning. With the jihad confession email, the police case against Dr Haneef ran into the sand.
Dr Haneef's defence team was unaware of the email evidence. His solicitor Peter Russo told the Herald yesterday: "We weren't shown any documents from the UK in any of the material we saw."
Dr Haneef was held for 11 days before being charged on July 14 last year with recklessly assisting a terrorist organisation by giving Sabeel his SIM card. The charge was dropped a fortnight later. The police won't discuss the Old Bailey revelations. Yesterday police media directed the Herald to a statement by the Federal Police Commissioner, Mick Keelty, in March welcoming the Clarke inquiry into the Haneef case.