Haneef posed no threat, says Australian security agency

July 29th, 2008 - 8:22 pm ICT by IANS  

By Neena Bhandari
Sydney, July 29 (IANS) In yet another revelation on the botched case of Muhammad Haneef, the Australian Security Intelligence Agency (ASIO) has said it had time and again told the former John Howard-led liberal government that the Indian doctor posed no security threat. In an unclassified submission to the John Clarke-led inquiry, investigating the former Gold Coast registrar’s incarceration on terror charge and subsequent release, the ASIO Director General Paul O’Sullivan has revealed his organisation never believed Haneef was a threat.

The Clarke inquiry is investigating the series of events from the arrest of Haneef at Brisbane airport July 2, 2007, until his release from detention and return home to Bangalore July 29.

“In conducting its intelligence investigation, ASIO considered whether Dr. Haneef posed a threat to security and provided advice across government on this issue. ASIO participated in whole-of-government meetings in relation to Dr. Haneef”, said O’Sullivan.

“ASIO’s consistent advice to these meetings was that, based on available information, ASIO did not assess Dr. Haneef as a threat to security and did not have grounds to issue an adverse security assessment,” added O’Sullivan.

He said ASIO was not involved in the decisions to arrest, charge, prosecute or release Haneef.

ASIO conducted an intelligence investigation and provided analytical support to the Australian Federal Police (AFP), but never questioned Haneef himself.

According to the Australian Associated Press (AAP), ASIO reported in a written advice to the government and various agencies on July 11 that it did not have information to indicate Haneef had any involvement in, or foreknowledge of, the failed terror acts in Britain.

ASIO also advised there was no information to indicate Haneef was undertaking planning for a terrorist attack in Australia or overseas.

Meanwhile, Haneef’s lawyers reiterated their demand for granting royal commission powers to the Clarke inquiry.

“Whatever this inquiry is, it is not judicial and it is not open,” Haneef’s lawyer Rod Hodgson told AAP Tuesday.

Justice Clarke, who is expected to produce a public and a private report, says he will not seek the powers of a royal commission to conduct the remainder of his inquiry. He will report his findings to the federal government by Sep 30.

Haneef was incarcerated in Australia for three weeks last July after being charged with supporting a terrorist organisation by “recklessly” giving his mobile phone SIM card to people planning the botched London and Glasgow bomb attacks.

The charges were later dropped and Haneef returned to his family in Bangalore. His work visa was reinstated last December by the new Immigration Minister Chris Evans.

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