Haneef’s visa cancellation ‘wholly legitimate’: Howard


Sydney : Australian Prime Minister John Howard has once again spoken out on Muhammad Haneef, ruling out the possibility of the Indian doctor being allowed back into the country and describing his visa cancellation as "wholly legitimate".

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On Monday night, John Howard defended Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews' handling of the matter "from start to finish" and said he had personally endorsed his decision to cancel Haneef's working visa.

"The visa cancellation was wholly legitimate and I can't see therefore the circumstances in which it's going to be restored, certainly in the near future," Howard was quoted as saying by The Age newspaper.

In a sign that the Australian government was determined to turn the issue into one of being tough on terrorism, the prime minister would not give Haneef a clean bill of health despite terrorism charges against him being dropped last week, Sydney Morning Herald added.

"I do know that the charge of (recklessly) assisting was not proceeded with, but as to his other antecedents, I don't know," Howard said.

On Sunday, Howard had stated categorically: "Australia will not be apologising to Dr Haneef."

"Dr Haneef was not victimised and Australia's international reputation has not been harmed," he added.

Haneef, who was incarcerated for 25 days in Brisbane as part of a bungled terror investigation, told reporters in Bangalore Monday evening that he wanted to return to Australia to work and would "fight" to get his cancelled work visa back.

The Indian doctor, who flew home Sunday night, was charged with being "reckless" in giving his mobile SIM card to his cousin Sabeel Ahmed, detained the same day in Liverpool by the British police following the failed June 30 attack on Glasgow airport.