I’ve just spent the last three hours going through the Haneef Record of Interview so generously leaked to the Murdoch media by some kind soul close to the legalities of the matter.
I have to say that apart from being exhaustively repetitious – which I suppose spooks have to be during interrogations – there’s not a whole lot in the transcript to hang the man by. Without putting too many personality-oriented inflections on the answers by Haneef, I’d suggest that his grasp of the english language is adequate. Hardly fluent, but adequate. There are cultural issues woven into the tale he tells of monies being sent to family in India, loans between family members and loans from distant relations. Some complicated banking arrangements when Haneef resided in the UK, training to pass his medical exams. Sundry bank accounts in India, UK and Australia but when all’s said & done, certainly no easily identifiable or contentious sums of money sailing hither & yon which might indicate he’s been in league with Osama.
I felt some of the questions posed by the querents, Simms and Thompson, were more than a little leading but again, who am I to tell whether or not a spook is deliberately setting a verbal trap for an unwary dupe. And that’s something I now don’t believe Haneef is. A dupe. I don’t believe he’s been sold down the river or deliberately made a patsy of by any of these distant and not so distant family members in the UK. Granted, I’ve only read the one Record of Interview and reading is completely out of context with the actuality of a face-to-face live conversation where body language and speech inflections can be measured, but on the basis of what little that interview contains, I fail to see why he’s still being held incommunicardo and being treated as some terrorist-related pariah by politicians. Magistrate Jacqui Payne, presumably having seen all of the evidence relating to the charges laid and being given suitable advice by both crown and defence, had seen fit to grant Haneef bail on surety of $10,000. The question I’d like answered now is one of why the Australian government has seen fit to wade into a purely legal issue, by revoking Haneef’s long stay visa, effectively throwing him back into detention instead of being able to walk free. What evidence did the AFP show to Kevin Andrews which a magistrate – who by the by outranks a mere politician by societal standards – wasn’t privy to? Yes, yes…..I know what Andrews did was strictly according to the letter of the act, but I ask….on what basis did Andrews act? One of sheer bastardry? Perhaps the bastardry existed on the part of the AFP, slighted by an even-minded magistrate, they decided to get their man no matter what and recommended to the Minister that he invoke his power of revocation. After all, it’s the only basis upon which Andrews is permitted to rescind a 457 visa, upon police recommendation.
Haneef is not a terrorist. He has not been charged with a crime of terrorism, nor has he been implicated in any terrorist related crime. His only ’crime’ per se, has been to give a SIM card to a distant relative because that relative wanted to use the unused credit on it. Said relative, now under treatment for severe burns having tried to drive a Jeep through Glasgow Airport’s lounge area ablaze, had undertaken to change the SIM card into his own name. He clearly didn’t. Is that a crime for which Haneef now has to pay? Is it a crime at all? Is Haneef to be held responsible for contributing to something he wasn’t aware would happen? Has the SIM card in any way, shape or form been utilised in the driving of a blazing Jeep into an airport bollard?
Disturbing is the way the media, both here at home, and around the world, is mis-reporting the details of this case. I note the following from Associated Press:
Separately, he told his interviewers he gave Sabeel Ahmed his mobile phone last year before he left for Australia because it had some unused credit.
The Ahmed brothers and Haneef spent time together in England before Haneef moved to Australia, officials say. Since then, the trio have kept in occasional contact, mostly by online messaging.
Haneef also told police that he had received a phone call from Sabeel Ahmed’s mother saying he needed to call a British police officer because "someone was misusing" his mobile phone.
Other examples of out-of-context reporting abound. No mobile phone was being misused and millions of people chat intermittently on IM daily. I’m left to wonder if this issue is revolving entirely around the man’s ethnicity and religion. Certainly a goodly portion of the Record of Interview seems to indicate that. Has the issue now become one of a heavily political nature because of Magistrate Jacqui Payne’s supposed reputation of being ’anti-police’? Perhaps it’s because she’s indigenous? Perhaps it’s a combination of those things and she’s ruling in favour of another ethnicity? Who is to know, but speculation is rife. Little wonder public opinion is in total disarray.
If this matter has resolved anything to date, it’s that Australia’s anti-terrorism legislation is a pale representation of what it was meant to be, and a long way short of what it needs to be in reality. An election year this may be, and this issue one of prime political opportunity, but it is also one of legalities, human rights and common decency. In framing the legislation which has now been proven wanting, the Howard government has failed this country and failed it mightily. Not just because its laws are inadequate to the task, but primarily because it has abandoned the real issue of protection of the public’s basic rights. Even those on 457 visas are entitled to have their basic rights under the law protected. Maybe those rights only pertain to white-skinned Anglo-Saxon gene carriers?