Bangalore, July 31 Dr Mohammed Haneef on July 30 demanded that his visa be reinstated and that he will fight for it, was looking forward to returning to Australia to continue with his services at the Gold Coast Hospital. He said he had no idea why Australian Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews revoked his work visa. "I would like him to come forward and let out the facts," he added.
Dr Haneef was interacting with the press today along with his lawyer Peter Russo and cousin Imran Siddiqui. He said that he was overwhelmed by all the moral support he received in Australia and India. He especially thanked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed, Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and the Indian ambassador in Australia Prabhat Shukla.
"I am not a victim of international conspiracy, but Australian conspiracy," Dr Haneef said. He further added that his family suffered a great deal as a result of what happened to him and wished that no one else suffered the way he had to in the name of terrorism.
With regards to the statement made by Aussie PM Howard about “not” offering any apology to him, he said he did not expect Aussie government to offer any apology but demanded that the Aussie government apologise to India and its peace loving citizens for tarnishing its image. He also said that he was proud to be a Muslim and that Islam is one of the most peace-loving religions and hoped that no one would again be victimized on the basis of religion.
Earlier in the day, Dr. Haneef met Karnataka Chief Minister Kumaraswamy who offered him a job with the state health department. Mentioning the job offer during the press conference, Dr Haneef made it clear that he was keeping the government job offer option open but would decide only after matters with the Aussie government get sorted out.
The 27-year-old medico was held on July 2 at Brisbane Airport as Australian authorities suspected his involvement in two failed terror attacks in the UK. India`s concerns were aired at the highest level, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh emphasising that the Australian Government should grant him all facilities under the law of the land.
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee also spoke to his Australian counterpart Alexander Downer in this regard.
Ever since Dr Haneef was detained, the Indian Government had taken all necessary steps besides conveying strong concerns to Australia that he be treated in a "fair and just" manner. Dr Haneef was released from prison on July 27 after a charge against him of supporting terrorism was dropped due to a lack of evidence to prove his connection with a failed car bomb plot in Britain. He voluntarily flew home to India on July 28 after 25 days in custody.
Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister John Howard Monday dismissed calls for an inquiry into the bungled case of Dr Haneef and said the Muslim medic should not expect an apology. Dr Haneef was jailed for more than three weeks and charged with providing "reckless" support to a terror group in connection with last month`s failed car bombings in London and Glasgow. But the case against him collapsed on July 27 due to lack of evidence, and he was cleared of the charge.
Upon his arrival in India, he said he had been traumatised by the experience, which included having his work visa revoked. "I have been victimised by Australian authorities," he told the waiting media.
But Howard defended Australia`s handling of the case, the first under tough new anti-terror laws, and said the young doctor would not be receiving an apology for his time spent in detention. "Australia will not be apologising to Dr Haneef," Howard told reporters in Sydney. Howard said that mistakes occurred from time to time and that when it came to preventing terrorist attacks, it was "better to be safe than sorry."
"Dr Haneef was not victimised and Australia`s international reputation has not been harmed by this `mis-start` to its new anti-terrorism laws."
The Prime Minister said he supported Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews` handling of the case and his decision to cancel Dr Haneef`s working visa on character grounds. Supporters of Dr Haneef say the doctor should be entitled to compensation for his arrest and detention. "I think he`s probably owed a lot of money," the former head of the National Crime Authority, Peter Faris, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "I would have thought he would have a very substantial claim arising out of a bungled investigation and the bungled charges against him.
Faris slammed the work of Australian police and public prosecutors as incompetent. But Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Dr Haneef`s case demonstrated that Australia`s legal system worked well. "You have to understand that we have put in place very tough laws to protect the Australian public from possible terrorist attacks," he told reporters in Sydney before leaving for a regional security conference in the Philippines. "These are tough laws and the Federal Police implement these laws, not the politicians."
Australian Opposition leader Kevin Rudd today demanded an "independent" judicial inquiry into Dr Haneef’s episode, saying questions "hanging in the air" about the government`s treatment of the Indian doctor can only be answered by such a probe.
Rudd said he did not know what Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews was referring to when the minister cited compelling evidence for cancelling the visa Dr Haneef.
"What has formed the basis of his decision to change the form of incarceration of Dr Haneef, and what then became the basis of his decision to order the deportation of Haneef and other actions taken... I do not know," the Labour leader said. "That is why we need to have all information on the table," Rudd said adding "I have no confidence in the government conducting its own internal administrative review." "We need to have that independent judicial inquiry first to establish all the facts that are currently in the private possession of a number of minister" Rudd added. "What I have learnt from my long and bitter experiences with the Howard Government is the facts only have a prospect of being established if you have an Independent judicial inquiry," Rudd was quoted by a media report.
"Once the facts are established, what we have then is the full terrain of information and advice provided to the Attorney General, Immigration Minister and the action taken on their behalf at each stage of the process," he said. Based on the facts, the Australian people can reach their own conclusion, Rudd said.