Sunday, July 22, 2007

Trial by leaking lies and smears to the media

The lawyer of Mohammed Haneef who was arrested in Australia is quite rightly complaining about the trial by media. The government continues to leak rumours and lies against Haneef, whilst at the same time complaining about the release of Haneef's interview with police by his legal team:

THE Australian government is conducting a trial by media against accused terrorism supporter Mohamed Haneef because its case against him is so flimsy, the Indian doctor's lawyer says.

Peter Russo said he was shocked by media reports claiming Haneef, 27, was part of a planned terrorist attack in Australia.

The Sunday Herald Sun today reported the Australian Federal Police (AFP) were examining images of a Gold Coast building and its foundations found among photos and documents seized in a raid of Haneef's Southport unit.

Quoting anonymous sources, it said the AFP was looking at documents which referred to destroying structures and had information that Haneef was allegedly one of a group of doctors who had been learning to fly in Queensland.

However AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty this afternoon dismissed the report as "inaccurate" and said the information had not come from the AFP.

". . . We will be taking the extraordinary step of contacting Dr Haneef's lawyer to correct the record," he said.

Mr Russo said it was extraordinary that apparent "leaks" continued to come from sources within the government that had condemned the release of Haneef's police interview by his barrister, Stephen Keim.

"What do the prime minister, the attorney-general and the commissioner of federal police think about this latest form of conducting trial by media?" Mr Russo said.

"Will each of those persons come out and condemn this attempt to leak purported information in the same way they condemned the release of the record of interview."
Haneef is charged with providing support to a terrorist organisation by giving his mobile phone SIM card to a relative who has since been charged over last month's failed UK bomb plot.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock refused to be drawn on the possible source of the claims, as well as media reports he was considering withdrawing Haneef's Criminal Justice Certificate, which would lead to his deportation.

The reports came as a relative of Haneef today declared him a "victim of circumstance" and pledged he would not leave Australia without him.

Imran Siddiqui, a cousin of Haneef's wife, Firdous Arshiya, arrived late last night and today told a forum at Griffith University, in Brisbane's south, Haneef was innocent.

"I've come to take him back - he's innocent, that I know," Mr Siddiqui said.

"We know the truth is that he's not connected to these things.

"It's not wrong on my part to expect that he should be released with all respect and dignity."

He urged authorities to ensure "the truth comes out" so Haneef's reputation could be restored.

"After all this hard work, after being a model citizen, after losing his father at a very early age, going through all this, maintaining his family and then right (when) he's relishing the hard work which he's been doing over the years, someone has to face ... that," he said.

Mr Siddiqui will now seek to visit Haneef at Brisbane's Wolston Correctional Centre, where he is being held in solitary confinement, to bring him news of his family.



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