Australia is good place to live, says Haneef

Saturday, December 18, 2010

MELBOURNE - Mohamed Haneef, an Indian doctor who was falsely accused by Australian police of aiding terrorists, has said he still thinks Australia is a good place to live and work.

Haneef, who is back in Australia with his wife and three-year-old daughter for mediation talks for his hefty compensation claims against the Australian government next week, said Friday he harboured no ill-feelings over his “traumatic experience”, Australian news agency AAP reported.

At a news conference, he glossed over questions about his poor treatment by Australian authorities, insisting he still thought Australia was a good place to live.

Haneef, who now practises in the United Arab Emirates, was working at the Gold Coast Hospital, Queensland when he was arrested by Australian Federal Police (AFP) in July 2007.

When asked if he was angry, he replied: “At the moment, no, I’m happy.”

“Coming back to Australia represents a very important step for me and for my family… and I’m hopeful that the upcoming mediation will be an opportunity to resolve this matter and give my family and me a chance to move forward,” he said.

He said he would wait for the outcome before deciding whether to re-apply for work with Queensland Health.

“I like the place, I like working over there in the Gold Coast,” Haneef, who will visit friends on the coast during his 10-day stay, said.

Haneef has sought “significant” compensation from the Australian government over his wrongful imprisonment on terrorism allegations.

He was held in custody for 12 days before being charged with recklessly giving support to a terrorist organisation when his mobile phone SIM card was linked to a terrorist attack in Britain.

The charges were later dropped as prosecutors admitted bungling the case and the independent Clarke inquiry cleared him of any wrongdoing.

He is seeking damages for lost earnings, the interruption to his medical career, damage to his reputation and emotional stress.

His lawyer, Rod Hodgson, would not reveal the amount of the compensation sought. But he said it was “significant” and reflected the “terrible injustice” done to Haneef.

Filed under: Terrorism

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