UK terror charges dropped against doctor

Other News Materials 27 July 2007 11:19 (UTC +04:00)

( AP ) - Australia's top prosecutor on Friday dropped a terror charge against an Indian doctor accused of supporting last month's failed bomb attacks in London and Glasgow, Scotland.

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions Damian Bugg withdrew the charge against Mohamed Haneef in the Brisbane Magistrates Court.

Bugg told reporters in Canberra that he ordered the charges withdrawn because he was satisfied "there was no reasonable prospect of conviction."

Haneef, 27, had been charged with supporting a terrorist organization because he gave his mobile phone SIM card to a second cousin, Sabeel Ahmed, in July last year. Ahmed has been charged in Britain in connection with the attacks.

Haneef, who moved to Australia from Britain last year, has been held in the eastern city of Brisbane since July 2 when he was arrested at the international airport as he was about to fly to India.

A court ordered Haneef's release on bail last week but Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews kept him in prison by canceling his visa on character grounds, based on information provided by the federal police.

Because he has no visa to remain in Australia, Haneef may have to remain in custody while he appeals the immigration minister's decision. That case is due before a court on Aug. 8.

Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty told reporters in Canberra he would not revise his advice to the minister, who has said he stands by his decision to withdraw Haneef's visa.

Andrews was expected to give a press conference later Friday.

On Wednesday, Bugg had said he was reviewing Haneef's case as criticism mounted that officials had mishandled it. The review came after days of media leaks and criticism of the police's handling of the case that have fueled calls for a Senate inquiry.

In Britain, Ahmed, 26, has been charged with withholding information that could prevent an act of terrorism. His brother, Kafeel Ahmed, is believed to have set himself ablaze after crashing into Glasgow Airport and remains in a Scottish hospital with critical burns.