Source AP ©

Indian doctor arrested in Australia in connection with failed terror attack in Britain to be detained for immigration violations

The Australian government said Monday that a doctor allegedly connected to a failed terror plot in Britain would be detained for immigration violations, overriding a magistrate's order granting him bail in the terrorism case.

Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews said Mohamed Haneef's work visa was canceled because the Indian doctor "failed the character test," and that he will be taken into immigration custody should he be released on bail.

"I reasonably suspect that he has, or has had, an association with persons engaged in criminal activity, namely terrorism, in the U.K.," Andrews told reporters in Canberra, the national capital. "That's the basis on which I have made this decision."

The Australian government can withdraw a person's visa for a variety of reasons, including if the immigration minister judges a person is not of good character.

Hours earlier, Queensland state Magistrate Jacqui Payne granted Haneef bail on a charge of providing support for a terrorist organization, saying there was no clear evidence he was involved in the car bomb plots in London and Scotland.

If Haneef meets the bail conditions, immigration officials will step in before he can be freed and take him to a detention facility in Sydney, Andrews said.

Haneef will remain in Australia as long as he faces charges here, but may be deported to India later, he said.

Cameron Murphy, the secretary of the Australian Council for Civil Liberties, said the government was undermining judicial independence.

"The reason we have an independent court system is so these incredibly important decisions are made for the right reasons, and aren't subject to political interference," Murphy said. "It is not appropriate for the government to just keep him incarcerated because they don't like the decision of the magistrates court."

Police, acting on information from British investigators in the attack plot, arrested Haneef, 27, on July 2 as he tried to board a flight from the eastern city of Brisbane to India.

Prosecutors told the court a mobile phone SIM card that had belonged to Haneef was found in the burned-out vehicle used to attack the international airport in Glasgow, Scotland, on June 30.

They said Haneef gave the card - used to store numbers and other data - to Sabeel and Kafeel Ahmed, two brothers who are the chief suspects in the Glasgow attack, in July 2006 before Haneef came to Australia. Haneef is a distant cousin of the brothers, and lived with them for a while in Liverpool, England.

Haneef's lawyers say he claims he had no idea his cousins were plotting an attack.

Police described Haneef's support for the plot as "reckless" rather than deliberate, and his lawyer has said the case against him is weak.

Payne granted Haneef bail on the condition he provides a bond of 10,000 Australian dollars (US$8,700; EUR 6,300), reports to police three times a week, and stays away from any international ports.

She said prosecutors had not disclosed a clear link between Haneef and a terrorist organization, and noted there was no specific allegation that the phone SIM card had been used in the attack plot.