Sunday, July 15, 2007

Glasgow Bombing: Terror Suspect Granted BAIL in Australia

A close connection of the Glasgow bombers - a cell w/"ties to Al Qaeda" - has been granted bail, despite the fact that Australian law stipulates that terror suspects can only be released on bail under special circumstances. One reason for springing him - the prosecution has no evidence that he has ties to a terrorist organization ... - AC
Terror Suspect Gets Bail in Australia
By Dennis Passa
Associated Press Writer

Published: Jul 15, 2007 10:53 PM EST

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) - A magistrate granted bail on Monday for an Indian doctor accused of supporting the foiled car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow, saying prosecutors had not provided evidence he had a direct link to a terrorist group.

Magistrate Jacqui Payne set the bail for 27-year-old Muhammad Haneef with several conditions, including staying away from international ports, checking in with police three times a week and putting up an $8,700 bond. He was not immediately released.

Haneef, 27, was charged Saturday with providing support to a terrorist organization by giving his mobile phone SIM card to British suspects Sabeel and Kafeel Ahmed when he moved to Australia in July 2006. He faces a maximum of 15 years in prison if convicted.

His lawyer, Peter Russo, said it would take some time to gather the bail money together and deal with other details, and his release "may take a couple of hours or it may take a couple of days."

Government prosecutor Clive Porritt had argued against bail for Haneef, citing laws that say terrorist suspects should only be granted bail in "exceptional circumstances." The prosecutor said authorities are worried he may flee the country.

The magistrate gave eight grounds for granting bail, including the determination that prosecutors had not provided evidence of a direct link between Haneef and a terrorist organization in Britain.

Haneef has surrendered his passport to authorities and is scheduled to return to court next month. Russo said Haneef, who was held for 12 days before being charged, would be "relieved ... that finally the matter has been aired in open court."

"With these things, as soon as secrecy attaches to them, that's when things tend to be unjust," Russo told Nine Network television.

Haneef will not be extradited to Britain while he faces charges in Australia, the attorney general said Sunday.

In Britain, police released two men arrested at a Scottish hospital after the failed attacks. Police said no charges would be filed against the men, a 24-year-old and a 27-year-old arrested at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley.

With their release, three of the eight people detained in the case have been freed and three have been charged. One suspect is hospitalized with severe burns and under guard, and a Jordanian doctor remains jailed without charges.

Attorney General Philip Ruddock said Haneef's case would most likely be tried in Australia.

"Australia would not normally surrender a person for extradition where there were outstanding matters that had to be dealt with here," Ruddock told Network Ten.

Haneef's wife maintained her husband was innocent and pleaded with authorities to help free him, Indian media reported Sunday.

"I had patience till now because I thought they would not charge him without reason," said Firdaus Arshiya, according to the Sunday edition of the Hindustan Times. "The charges are baseless and senseless."

In Britain, police charged Indian doctor Sabeel Ahmed, 26, with withholding information that could prevent an act of terrorism.

His brother, Kafeel Ahmed, is believed to have set himself ablaze after crashing an explosives-laden Jeep into the Glasgow airport on June 30. Sabeel Ahmed was arrested in Liverpool the day of the Glasgow attack and is due to appear in a London court on Monday.

Haneef is a distant cousin of the Ahmed brothers and he shared a house in Liverpool with them before moving to Australia for a job at a hospital on Queensland state's Gold Coast.

Haneef's lawyer Stephen Keim has slammed the government's case as "extremely weak," saying his client only left the SIM card so his cousin could take advantage of a special deal on his mobile phone plan.

A total of three people have now been charged since a pair of cars packed with gas cylinders and nails were found in central London on June 29. The next day, two men crashed a flaming Jeep Cherokee, loaded with gas canisters and gasoline, into security barriers at Glasgow airport's main terminal.

On Saturday, a British judge gave police until July 21 to continue questioning a Jordanian doctor, Mohammed Asha, 26, who was detained on a northern England highway on June 30. He was detained with his wife, Marwa Asha, who was released Thursday without charge.