Haneef wants to meet Howard and ask for ‘honorary citizenship’

By Neena Bhandari

Sydney : Indian doctor Muhammad Haneef, back home in India after 25 days in Australian police custody for “recklessly supporting” terrorism, would like to meet Prime Minister John Howard and ask for “honorary citizenship”.

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Even as Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Mick Keelty asserted over the weekend that he would track down “every lead and piece of evidence” against Haneef, the doctor said he was confident he won’t be charged again with terrorism offences.

Haneef, who was cleared of charges of supporting the botched British bombings, told the Sydney Morning Herald that THE police had already “got everything out of me, everything. What else could they get on me?”

Despite his weeks of incarceration and trauma, Haneef told the Herald that he would like to return to Australia and complete his medical training and meet the prime minister. “I would ask for honorary citizenship of Australia… Because I’m a good doctor.”

Asserting his innocence, he said the events of the past month had taught him a lesson that in this age of terror he wouldn’t give anyone his mobile phone SIM card for anything again.

There is also the possibility that he might sue.

Haneef’s lawyer Peter Russo, who accompanied the doctor to India and has just returned to Australia, told ABC Radio: “You’ve got to understand the Indians’ mentality – the mentality is to sue.

“I didn’t realise that until I got over there and started talking to some of the relatives. But he (Haneef) specifically hasn’t asked me to sue.”

Haneef’s appeal against the Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews’ decision to revoke his 457 work visa is scheduled for hearing by a Federal Court judge in Brisbane on Wednesday.

Haneef was arrested at Brisbane International Airport, just before flying to India July 2. He was in custody for 25 days on charges of supporting a terrorist organisation by “recklessly” giving his mobile phone SIM card to people planning the London and Glasgow bombings.

His visa was cancelled hours after he was granted bail by a Brisbane magistrate on the grounds that he had failed a “character test” through his association with his second cousins Kafeel and Sabeel Ahmed in Britain.

Sabeel is one of the men charged in the foiled bomb attacks. His brother Kafeel died recently of severe burns suffered when he drove a burning jeep into Glasgow airport on June 30.