VINUTHA MALLYA writes: Even as we woke up to newspaper headlines that the Australian police was not to seek extension of Indian doctor Mohammed Haneef’s detention, television and internet headlines have dashed all hopes for the young doctor and his family.
Haneef has finally been charged, after mounting pressure and criticism on the Australian Police from within and outside the country for detaining him without charge.
The Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty confirming the charges pinned against Haneef. The “specific allegation” according to the honourable commissioner “regards recklessness rather than intention”. The allegation is that he was “reckless about some of the support he provided to that UK group in particular the provision of his SIM card for the use of the group.”
If found guilty Haneef faces a maximum of 15 years in jail.
The Australian Police seems to have crumbled under the pressure of having to press a charge, and finally decided to pin a flimsy one just to ensure they showed a “hardline approach” towards terrorism.
The prime minister of that country, John Howard, has gone on record praising the detention of Haneef without any charge, adding that Australia will continue its hardline approach towards terrorism.
Hardline is one thing, but manipulating facts for face-saving?
Haneef had admitted to having given the SIM card to Sabeel Ahmed, his friend and distant cousin, before leaving the UK last year. In fact, the SIM card was the link from UK to Haneef in the case. The SIM card was the only reason Haneef was detained and has now become the only reason for his being charged.
Did it take the Australian police 12 days to decide that the SIM card was method of “support” to a terrorist organisation? The SIM card was given last year and it isn’t established yet, whether Kafeel Ahmed and Bilal Abdullah had even planned the attacks on Glasgow Airport as far back as then.
But, above all, if Haneef had known his SIM card was going to be used for a terrorist attack, wouldn’t be smart enough not to give it to them, knowing fully well that SIM cards leave an electronic trail and are traceable?
Would he not have covered his tracks?
Would he have waited to be traced, just days after becoming a father of a newborn?
Something does not add up here. Haneef will not only go down in Australian history for being detained (not “arrested”) for the longest period without being charged, but for having “supported” terrorist activity by giving his SIM card to his cousin and friend before leaving the UK last year.
Or is it simply that the Australian Police now wants to keep Haneef in custody until the police in the UK or India could come up with leads that they could charge him with later?
Fifteen years for possibly innocently giving away a SIM card?
Countless people part with their SIM cards while leaving a country and give them to their friends in good faith. But the Australian police is now telling the world: don’t give away anything—SIM cards, CDs, emails, and most importantly, perhaps good faith.