Melbourne, Jul 30: Lawyers representing Bangalore-based Dr Mohamad Haneef have demanded an explanation from the Australian Government and courts as why he was slapped with a terrorism charge last year if he was not a security threat.
Reacting to an Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) missive that Dr Haneef was never a security threat, the lawyers urged a court hearing the case to force the Australian Federal Police to make public its submission to the Clarke Inquiry as why their client was falsely accused and detained.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the federal police have already made a submission to the inquiry but that document is protected from public scrutiny by a security classification that can only be removed by the agency itself. The lawyers' calls come after revelation that police ignored the conclusions reached by the ASIO while they were in pursuit of Haneef.
The ASIO revealed on Tuesday, july 29 that it had "consistently" advised the Howard government and its agencies that it had no evidence connecting the Gold Coast-based doctor to a British terrorist plot.
That information was relayed in writing three days before federal police charged the doctor with recklessly supporting terrorism and five days before the former Immigration Minister, Kevin Andrews, stripped Dr Haneef of his visa on "character and national interest grounds" that have never been explained.
Today, Dr Haneef's lawyer Rod Hodgson reiterated the need for a transparent inquiry.
"If ASIO felt and told everybody, including the AFP, that Dr Haneef was not a security threat, why was Dr Haneef ever charged?" Mr Hodgson said.
"One thing the Australian public needs to know is who within the AFP directed the charging of Dr Haneef in the face of advice from Australia's peak intelligence agency," he added.
Earlier this week, the head of the inquiry, John Clarke, QC, said a high proportion of material handed in by government departments and agencies carried a security classification which limited the extent of its disclosure.
"Any attempt to secure declassification would confront a hurdle which I regard, practically speaking, as virtually insurmountable," he said.
The removal of classifications is voluntary and he rejected calls for royal commission powers to force it.
The Australian Federal Police Commissioner, Mick Keelty, has declared there were grounds to treat Dr Haneef as a security risk. Now, there are questions as to whether his stance was tenable.
Asked this morning why ASIO could make their submission public and the police couldn't, a federal police spokeswoman said that was a matter for ASIO.