IMAGE: Solicitor for detainee
Liam Kidston  /  EPA
Peter Russo, solicitor for detained Dr. Muhmmad Haneef, the Indian doctor held in Australia over the failed car bombings in Britain, speaks outside the Brisbane Magistrates Court, Australia, on Friday. news services
updated 7/13/2007 7:23:39 AM ET 2007-07-13T11:23:39

Australian police on Friday resumed their interrogation of an Indian doctor suspected in failed bomb attacks in London and Glasgow last month, after U.K. authorities released without charge the only woman among the eight suspects they had held in the case.

While Australian police began questioning Muhammad Haneef again, they dropped a request to extend his 11-day detention without charge.

Haneef, 27, who moved to Australia from Britain last year, was arrested July 2 as he tried to leave the eastern Australian city of Brisbane for India on a one-way ticket.

A massive investigation has established links between Haneef and at least two of the British suspects, but has not uncovered enough evidence to charge him, according to official documents cited by The Australian newspaper Friday.

Under Australia’s counterterrorism laws, police can hold a suspect without charge only with judicial approval. Police dropped their application to extend Haneef’s detention on Friday, leaving 12 hours to question him before he must be either charged or released unless police make a new application for detention.

The clock runs only when police are actively interviewing Haneef — meaning that with breaks the deadline could be further off in real time.

Haneef’s lawyer, Stephen Keim, said he expected the questioning to be complete in around 24 hours.

Wife of suspect
In the United Kingdom, meanwhile, the wife of suspect Mohammed Asha, 26, arrested with him on June 30 while the pair drove on a motorway in northern England, hours after attackers drove a jeep into an airport terminal building in Scotland and set it ablaze.

That attack came 36 hours after the discovery of two cars packed with fuel, gas tanks and nails primed to explode near a crowded nightclub in London. Police think the two incidents were linked.

All but one of the suspects are medics from the Middle East or India. One, Iraqi-trained doctor Bilal Abdulla, 27, was charged last week with conspiring to cause explosions.

Indian engineer Kafeel Ahmed, 27, is under police guard badly burned in hospital. Four other suspects, including Ahmed’s brother, Sabeel, are held at a central London police station.

British police can hold terrorism suspects up to 28 days without charge, but must periodically seek the permission of a judge to continue questioning them.

Cousin of suspect in U.K.
Australian Atorney General Philip Ruddock told Sky News that police were “satisfied that they have sufficient information about which they can pursue questioning,” of Haneef, and that authorities could seek to detain him again if new information is uncovered during the interrogation.

Haneef is a distant cousin of Kafeel and Sabeel Ahmed, two suspects held in Britain in connection with two bomb-laden cars found in London on June 29 and an attack on a Glasgow airport the next day.

The three reportedly shared a house in the British city of Liverpool for up to two years before Haneef moved to Australia, and remained in contact by phone and online messaging after that.

Australian officials have said that Haneef was arrested after his mobile SIM card was found in the possession of one of the British suspects. The documents reportedly identify the suspect as Sabeel Ahmed.

The documents reportedly say police also suspect “a further possible link” between Haneef and Bilal Abdullah, the only person charged over the failed attacks. He is accused of conspiring to set off explosions.

No linking Haneef to plot
But despite a massive investigation into vast amounts of computer data, phone records and other material seized as evidence, police had not found any evidence linking Haneef to the plot, the newspaper said.

Officials had sought to extend Haneef’s detention beyond Friday, but withdrew their application on Friday, a spokesman for the Australian Federal Police said on condition of anonymity in line with policy. The spokesman did not give a reason for dropping the request.

Police already had questioned Haneef for 12 hours after his arrest, but then won permission from the court to pause their interrogation while they sifted through the evidence. Police said they had resumed questioning Haneef on Friday, and had 12 hours left under Australian laws.

Haneef says he was rushing back to India to visit his wife and baby daughter, born June 26. The doctor has denied any involvement in the British plot and was becoming “a bit teary” by his extended detention, one of his lawyers, Peter Russo, told reporters Friday.

“He will be grateful that some progress has been made and we can now start to sort the rest of it out,” said Russo, adding that his client also had consented to give his fingerprints and a DNA test to police to assist in the investigations.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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