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Haneefs Visa Revoked by Australia

The rollercoaster ride of Dr.Mohammed Haneef, the man from Bangalore in southern India, continues .

He is destined to pay a heavy price for a small act of indiscretion, it looks like. He had allowed his SIM card to be used by his cousins, the key players in the failed Glasgow bombing.

Intercepted when he was about to board a flight to India, two days after the Glasgow incident, Haneef has been seeing his hopes soar only to crash.

First Australian authorities almost hinted they were not charging him at all, but sprang a surprise at the last moment.

And now after he was granted bail, the hard-line conservative government swiftly move in to deny Haneef freedom.

About 10am today a Brisbane magistrate decided to release Haneef on bail pending his trial on charges of breaching anti-terrorism laws.

But as Haneef's legal team started making arrangements to meet the bail conditions, including raising a $10,000 surety, Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews found another way to keep the Indian doctor in custody.

At 2.45pm in Canberra Andrews announced he had decided to cancel Haneef's visa because the medico had failed the Migration Act's requirements for immigrants to be of good character.

The upshot of this decision is that Haneef will now be held in Sydney's Villawood immigration detention centre until his trial on the terrorism charges is finalized.

And even if Haneef is eventually acquitted by the Australian courts, Andrews decision would allow the Government to then deport him.

Civil libertarians attacked the minister's decision as a way of circumventing the Brisbane court's decision to release the doctor on bail and said it prejudged the issue of Haneef's guilt or innocence.

But Andrews insisted the legal process he had invoked under the Migration Act was separate from the criminal proceedings under way in Brisbane.

Under section 501 of th e act, a "character test" applies to people seeking visas to enter the country.

A person fails the character test if, among other things, he or she has an association with another person or group whom the minister suspects is involved in criminal conduct.

Andrews said he had considered information provided by the Australian Federal Police.

Based on this information, he had formed a reasonable suspicion that Haneef had an association with those accused of carrying out the Glasgow bombing and had decided to cancel his visa.

Normally the result of having one's visa cancelled is that one is deported (once any appeals against the minister's decision are finalized).

But in Haneef's case, the Attorney-General is likely to issue a "criminal justice stay certificate" stopping him from being deported until the finalization of his trial.

Haneef has two avenues of appeal against these migration decisions. Firstly, he can apply Andrews to revoke the decision canceling his visa. Secondly, he can go to the Federal Court and ask it to review Andrews's decision on legal grounds.

But his chances under both of those avenues are made harder because Andrews has invoked a special "national interest" element of the section 501 visa cancellation process.

The Migration Act provides that when the minister is satisfied it would be in the national interest to cancel a person's visa, then the legal rules of natural justice do not apply to his decision.

Haneef will join many other immigrants in Villawood whose visas have been cancelled on character grounds.

He will again never taste freedom in Australia, it is feared.


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