Haneef’s wife appeals to PM as he and Sabeel are charged


Bangalore/Canberra/London : Firdous Arshiya, wife of detained Indian doctor Mohammed Haneef, who she says has been charged by the Australian police on “baseless” grounds, has sought the help of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to free him even as his cousin Sabeel Ahmed was separately charged in London in connection with the botched terror plot in Britain.

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Speaking from her Bangalore home, a visibly upset Arshiya requested the prime minister to “please help us in this” situation and told IANS she may now go to Australia as her husband may not be allowed to travel to India even if he gets bail.

The hearing on Haneef’s bail plea was postponed to Monday, which means he will have to spend at least two more nights in custody.

Meanwhile, British authorities Saturday charged Sabeel Ahmed – brother of suspected Glasgow airport bomber Kafeel Ahmed – with possessing prior information about a terrorist strike and not informing the police about it.

Sabeel, an Indian doctor who was arrested in Liverpool June 30, will be produced before a magistrate in London Monday.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) also searched the home of another foreign doctor in Perth Saturday in what is said to be a probe into alleged links between terrorism and overseas-trained doctors.

The AFP and Western Australian Police have sealed the doctor’s house in the western Perth suburb of Subiaco. State forensic officers have been removing material from the house for investigation.

Reacting to the charge against Haneef – who is a distant cousin of Sabeel and Kafeel Ahmed – Arshiya said she never expected “such a stupid thing” from the Australian police.

“Yes. They want to just hold him back. That is why they are doing this.”

Terming the charges as “baseless”, Arshiya said Haneef himself told the Australian police that he had left behind his SIM card with his cousins, Kafeel and Sabeel, when he left London for Brisbane, so charging him on this account was “unfair”.

The AFP have charged Haneef with supporting a terrorist organisation by “recklessly” giving his mobile phone SIM card to Sabeel when Haneef moved from Britain to Australia in 2006.

An AFP statement said: “He has been charged with providing support to a terrorist organisation contrary to Section 102.7(2) of the Criminal Code Act 1995.”

The police said that Haneef’s act was not “intentional”.

Haneef was detained in Brisbane July 2 when he was leaving for India on a one-way ticket to see his newborn baby. Arshiya, an engineering graduate, gave birth to a girl in Bangalore June 26.

“People in Australia itself were questioning the (Haneef’s) detention without charges,” Arshiya pointed out. “That is why they have taken this step.

“They do not realise the effect their action is having on the lives of those connected to Haneef.”

The news of Haneef being charged, instead of being released as was widely expected Friday after police dropped plans to seek extension of his detention, came as a huge “shock and disappointment for the family”, she added.

Brisbane Magistrate Jacki Payne Saturday afternoon heard more than an hour’s submission on the reasons why Haneef should or should not be granted bail, reported Australian broadcaster ABC. Haneef will appear again in court Monday morning.

Haneef’s lawyer Peter Russo told the media that his client was very upset about being charged.

Official documents cited by The Australian newspaper on Friday had said Haneef gave the SIM card to Sabeel before he moved to Australia from Britain last year so that his cousin could take advantage of free minutes left on his mobile phone plan.

According to media reports here, the police have also said they suggest a possible link between Haneef and Bilal Abdullah, the Iraqi doctor charged with conspiracy to cause the blasts in London and Glasgow last month.