Friday, July 27, 2007

Haneef Charge Dropped But No Visa Yet

This afternoon, the charge against Dr Mohamed Haneef that he provided material support for a terrorist organisation (by giving his pre-paid SIM card to his cousin) was dropped.

The case had been set down for mention this morning, but was delayed, pending a decision by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Damian Bugg. The ABC reported him as saying that "there are matters which have developed as the case has progressed which require examination".

He has been released from prison, but is reportedly going to a Dept of Immigration "safe house".

By any measure this has been a strange case, and it is not yet finished. From the beginning, politicians, particularly the Prime Minister and leading Cabinet Ministers, have had much to say. By so doing, they create considerable pressure on the AFP to produce a "result" consistent with the politics. (aside: it's what the government is trying to do to the Reserve Bank over interest rates)

The sometimes farcical nature of the "evidence" and statements to the court that were clearly wrong, allegations of police writing in his journal, and alleged statements from his interview that were never made led to the almost inevitable result of charges being dropped.

However, it could not be that simple:

  • the AFP needed a way out: it would look bad if they had to publicly say that they got it wrong.
  • the government politicians, after all their tough talk on terrorism about Haneef, needed a way out. Their posturing would look silly had the AFP admitted their mistakes
So, in steps the Commonwealth DPP. He reviews the tainted "evidence" and decides to drop the charges. Result: both the AFP and the politicians save face, becasue neither had to admit, or further act on tainted evidence.

The only acts still to be played out are a "review" of new material by the Minister, Kevin Andrews, who might grant Haneef back his visa, as part of a deal that Haneef leave the country voluntarily. Such a deal, if it came about, would mean Haneef would eventually leave the headlines, the vocal Government Ministers could move on to other "pressing" matters, and they would hope the public would forget the terrible politics of this matter.


Post Script
Saturday 28-July-2007
Dr Moahamed Haneef will leave Australia tonight, from Brisbane.
Immigration have returned his passport, but not his visa, and he has been banned from speaking to the media.
Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews said his dicision not to return the visa was lawful, on advice from the Solicitor-General. He did not remind people that Section 501 of the Immigration Act does not require him to act justly, or that it allows him to act on his personal "discretion".

Mr Andrews, John Howard & Phillip Ruddock will heave a collective sigh of relief, and hope the public forget.