31 Jul. 2007

Haneef: A Plausible Explanation

Here is a plausible explanation of the circumstantial evidence presented by Kevin Andrews today. To recap the latest "evidence":
[Kevin Andrews] says in the conversation, Dr Haneef's brother says, "nothing has been found out about you", "have you got permission to leave work?" and "tell them you have a newborn daughter".

Mr Andrews also says, in the conversation, which took place the day before Dr Haneef tried to leave Australia, the doctor's brother asks, "when are you getting out?" To which Dr Haneef replied, "today."
And furthermore:
"He did not apply for leave from the hospital when he went to work at the hospital on the Monday morning and it was not until after he received two telephone calls - one from India - having been told in both calls that there was an issue about his SIM card, that he applied for leave that afternoon from the hospital," he said.
Now let's travel back in time to Bangalore, India. Haneef's family have been contacted by British and/or Indian police after his cousin's failed car-bombing in London. Somehow they learn that there are questions about Dr Haneef's SIM card. What do they do? Of course, they contact Haneef and ask him about it. Haneef says he is innocent, but of course he is still shocked by his cousins' actions and now he is also alarmed at the thought that he might be implicated. He starts to panic.

"Don't worry," says his brother, "nothing has been found out about you."
"What should I do?" asks Haneef.
"Just come home to India for a while. Wait till things cool down."
"But what about my job?"
"Hmmn.. Have you got permission to leave work? Can you take a vacation?"
"I can get permission, but what will I tell them? It will look strange if I suddenly disappear."
"Tell them you have a newborn daughter, man! Mum says you should be coming to see her, you know."
"I know. I'm just trying to do the best thing for her future, you know? This job is important to me."
"Yeah, I know..."

They talk for a while. Haneef decides his brother is right.

"You know." he says, "this Aussie government is fucking crazy about terrorism. If I don't get out of here, they are going to arrest me for sure. Did you see what happened to that David Hicks guy."
"Take it easy, Mohammed."
"No, you are right. I've gotta get out of this country before they arrest me."
"Good. So when are you getting out?"
"Today, if I can."

A short while later, Haneef gets another call from a concerned friend or relative who has heard about the SIM card connection. He hurriedly books some vacation time. He tries to organise a flight home that day, but he can't get a flight till the following day. He talks to his brother again.

"So what did you tell the hospital?"
"I said I wanted to see my daughter."
"Nothing else?"
"No, nothing else. You think I want to mess up this job if I don't have to?"
"Of course not. Just get your ass home as quick as you can."

There are some more details in this Indian report which don't make much sense to me:
"The brother then said not to delay his departure and not to let anyone else use his number in Australia, nor to give it to anyone.

"The brother added that 'auntie' told him that brother Kafeel used it in some sort of protest over there," Andrews said, in a reference to UK bombing accused Kafeel Ahmed.
I would have thought that the timeframe involved meant that Haneef already knew about the London bombing and his cousin's involvement. And if he already gave his SIM card to Kafeel, why would he still be giving the number out in Australia? But anyway, "some sort of protest" hardly sounds like they knew what was going down, does it?

Obviously, I know fuck all about this case, and I'm not pretending that the version above is necessarily anything like reality. But if someone like me can so easily come up with an explanation for all this evidence that Kevin Andrews thinks is so damning, maybe it's not so damning at all.

Even if Haneef is guilty, this standard of evidence is not sufficient to convict anyone. Kevin Andrews has got himself in an awful mess.

UPDATE: Dr Haneef's lawyers insisted yesterday that he explained the chatroom conversation when interviewed by federal police.
Imran Siddiqui, a cousin of Dr Haneef's wife, said in Bangalore last night: "This is just another desperate attempt by Kevin Andrews to mislead the people of Australia. Why doesn't he release the second transcript of the second [police] interview with Haneef? In that, we'll see all the questions that were put to Haneef and what he answered about that online conversation with his brother."

Defence lawyers noted that Dr Haneef had tried to get through by phone to British police immediately before leaving Australia to urgently explain why he gave his SIM card to Sabeel Ahmed.