Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Guilt by association

Recent developments have supported the conclusions I reached about the case of Dr Haneef, the doctor detained in Brisbane in connection with the UK car bombing attempts.

A number of documents pertinent to the case have since been leaked including the transcript of the police interview with the suspect (warning the file is 22Mb) and the documents used by the Minister for Immigration to cancel his visa and lock him up in an immigration detention centre, presumably until such time as the case comes to trial which could easily be as long as two years.

What these documents show is how incredibly flimsy the case is against Dr Haneef. Here's what the reasons used by the Minister for Immigration (marked as "Highly Protected", presumably to save the Government embarrassment) say:

Note that "Suspect 2" and "Suspect 5" are Dr Haneef's second cousins. Completely missing is any evidence or even allegation that Dr Haneef knew or should have known that his cousins were involved in terrorism. The Government isn't even alleging that the mobile phone and SIM card that he gave to his cousin was used in any way in terrorist activity. And read carefully the mention of a 300 pound loan to sit a medical exam. Dr Haneef is receiving the loan not giving it!

So what does this boil down to? Guilt by association pure and simple. A guy is being locked up because he stayed with his cousins when living in a foreign country and left them some things he didn't need when he left.

The positive side to this story is that the Australian legal community is as outraged by this case as I am. When the judge hearing the application for appeal against the visa cancellation tells the Immigration Minister "I'd fail the character test that you have applied" there is a small glimmer of hope. Not surprisingly the judged granted leave to appeal and it is scheduled to be heard on August 8 at which time one can only hope that the courts give the Immigration Minister an almighty kick in the pants.

I have absolutely no doubt that if this ever goes to trial Haneef will be acquitted. But if John Howard has his way, only after Dr Haneef spends a year or two in detention. And then what, they'll deport him for a crime he hasn't committed? Rule of law? Natural justice? What a joke.

As for Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd, he wins the gutless wonder of the year award for supporting the Government's action. From what I know of him I'm sure he is only doing this out of fear that he will be somehow painted as 'soft on terrorism' during the upcoming election campaign. Which somehow makes it even worse.

Take me to your SIM card overlords.

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