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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 July 2007, 17:30 GMT 18:30 UK
Haneef relieved 'honour restored'
Mohammed Haneef on 60 minutes
Dr Haneef gave his first public interview after weeks in custody
The doctor who was accused in Australia of links to failed bomb attacks in the UK says he is relieved to have been cleared and denies any terrorist links.

Indian Mohammed Haneef said he felt "great... my Lord has restored my honour back to me, that I am innocent".

He was later mobbed by reporters as he arrived at Bangalore airport, in southern India.

Dr Haneef spent nearly four weeks in custody in a case that has led to criticism of Australian authorities.

Asked by Australia's Channel Nine TV whether he had ever been a supporter of a terrorist organisation, Dr Haneef replied: "No, it's not in my nature to ever support or involve in such activities at all.

"[I] never imagined even in my remotest corner of my brain that I would be labelled with such a defaming thing," he added in his first public interview.

Case collapsed

The Indian-born doctor was freed on Friday. He left Australia on Saturday, flying via Bangkok to Bangalore to see his wife and new-born daughter.

He was arrested when he tried to make the same trip earlier in July.

Prosecutors had claimed that the doctor's mobile phone SIM card had been found in the burning car that crashed into Glasgow international airport on 30 June.

Activists hold a banner outside the Immigration Department in Sydney, 18 July 2007, calling for the release of Dr Haneef

But it later emerged the card had actually been found in a flat in Liverpool, some 300km (185 miles) from Glasgow, where his second cousin lived.

Australia's most senior police officer, Commissioner Mick Keelty, said UK police had provided the inaccurate information.

"Haneef attempted to leave the country. If we had let him go, we would have been accused of letting a terrorist escape our shores," he said.

The charges against Dr Haneef were dropped after Australia's chief prosecutor said there had been mistakes made in the investigation, and because of a lack of evidence.

Visa dispute

The case has triggered concern from both legal and civil rights groups, and a call for a public inquiry has come from Queensland Premier Peter Beattie.

He also wants disciplinary action taken against Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews, who says he is standing by his decision to cancel the doctor's working visa, despite the charge being dropped.

Mr Andrews said on Sunday that he still harboured suspicions against the Indian doctor.

The fact that Dr Haneef decided to leave the country "actually heightens rather than lessens my suspicion", he said.

Dr Haneef's lawyers described the minister's comments as "beyond bizarre".

They say they want his name cleared completely, and have demanded the restoration of his work visa so that he can return to live and work in Australia.

This was withdrawn on the grounds that Dr Haneef was said to be of unsuitable character.

Dr Haneef had been working at the Gold Coast Hospital in Queensland when he was detained trying to board a flight to India on 2 July.

It came days after two cars containing petrol, gas cylinders and nails were discovered in London, and a burning car was driven into Glasgow airport.

Three people have been charged over the failed bombings in the UK, including Dr Haneef's second cousin Sabeel Ahmed.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Clips from an interview with Mohammed Haneef



SEE ALSO
Why the Haneef case disintegrated
27 Jul 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Haneef terrorism charges dropped
27 Jul 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Australia's Indian doctors feel the heat
24 Jul 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Prosecutor to review Haneef case
25 Jul 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Australia terror laws under scrutiny
19 Jul 07 |  Asia-Pacific

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