Haneef’s wife pleads for his release


Sydney : The wife of an Indian doctor held without charge in Australia over the British terror plot appealed for his release Thursday but said it was important for the investigators to be satisfied.

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The appeal came the same day Australian police searched a Queensland Health Department building.

Brisbane doctor Mohammed Haneef, 27, was picked up at the airport July 2 as he waited with a one-way ticket for a flight to India.

In a telephonic interview with Australian broadcaster ABC, Haneef's wife Firdous Arshiya said that Haneef, to whom she spoke to on the phone Wednesday, was holding up well after 10 days in detention and 12 hours of questioning over the recent terror plots in Britain.

"I just inquired about his health obviously, and he inquired about the health of the family. He's alright, he's fine and doing well," she said from Bangalore.

Arshiya said Haneef had not talked about the investigation. "He didn't say anything about all those things. He just talked about his health and said he'd come out soon."

On being unable to speak to her husband since his arrest on July 2, she said, "No it's okay, at least I got to speak to him. They are doing their inquiry for their satisfaction, then it's okay because even they have to get satisfied."

However, Arshiya added that she would have felt better if Haneef was doing his job with the hospital. "They could have asked him not to leave Australia and he could have stayed there doing his job and then they could have done the inquiry," she said.

Australian police are seeking court approval to extend Haneef's detention to give them more time to go through computer files and mobile telephone records seized at the time of the arrest.

Seven Indian doctors were questioned in Australia but Haneef was the only one detained.

Anti-terrorism laws introduced in the wake of the Madrid bombings in 2004 allow suspects to be questioned for 24 hours during their detention before the police need court approval for another period of questioning. Haneef has been quizzed for half the allotted time.

Prime Minister John Howard said the legislation could be beefed up if required. "If the laws turn out to be inadequate then the government will look at making them more adequate," Howard said.

"This is new territory but it is territory that we'll have to get used to for many years into the future."

Australia sent a police officer to India but authorities there are withholding cooperation until they receive a letter from a court asking for their help in the investigation.

Haneef's lawyer Peter Russo is trying to get his client released.

"Basically, they've had sufficient time to do whatever they had to do," Russo said. "It's appropriate that our client be released back into the community."