Indian wrongly accused of terror by Australia seeks payout

17th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

An Indian doctor wrongly held by Australian authorities on terrorism charges said Friday he was seeking "practical recognition" of his ordeal through his case for compensation.

Mohamed Haneef was arrested by Australian Federal Police in July 2007 and held for 12 days without charge after being incorrectly linked to failed car bombings in London and Glasgow.

Subsequent investigations found that the young medic, who had been working as a doctor at Queensland's Gold Coast Hospital at the time, was innocent and the victim of bungling by prosecutors.

"This mediation process is all about some practical recognition of how this has affected my family, of me, my reputation internationally and my career," Haneef said in a statement.

Haneef, who announced his bid for compensation in July this year, has returned to Australia for the first time in more than three years for mediation talks with the government beginning Monday.

He said his wrongful arrest and detention was a traumatic experience that had an impact on every aspect of his life.

"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 told a press conference.

He said Australia was a "fair place" but its reputation, particularly in India, had been damaged recently and he hoped "that by resolving my matter, it will help repair the damage".

Haneef's lawyers would not be drawn on the amount of compensation sought except to say it would be substantial.

Haneef, who now works as a doctor in the United Arab Emirates, said his career had been affected by his arrest but did not rule out eventually returning to live in Australia.

"I like the place, I like working over there in the Gold Coast," he said.

"We'll see how the mediation process goes and discuss this with my family."

Haneef was detained and later charged with recklessly giving support to a terrorist organisation after his mobile phone SIM card was linked to the failed attacks on airports in the UK.

He was later cleared of any wrongdoing but by then the government had cancelled his visa and he returned to India.

© 2010 AFP

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