BRISBANE, Australia — An Indian doctor flew home from Australia early Sunday after prosecutors dropped a charge linking him to recent failed terrorist bombings in Britain.
Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews said Mohamed Haneef, 27, was free to leave the country following his release from jail Friday, but his work visa remained canceled.
Australia’s chief prosecutor Damian Bugg said evidence did not support the charge that Haneef provided reckless support to a terrorist organization when he gave his cell phone SIM card to a relative in Britain a year ago, before leaving for a hospital job in Australia.
That relative, Sabeel Ahmed, 26, has been charged by British police with withholding information that could have prevented an act of terrorism.
Ahmed’s brother, Kafeel Ahmed, is believed to have set himself ablaze after crashing an explosives-laden Jeep into Glasgow Airport and remains hospitalized with critical burns.
Haneef, flanked by his cousin and his lawyer flew out of Brisbane Airport early Sunday on a flight scheduled to arrive in Bangalore on Monday.
The lawyer, Peter Russo, told reporters his client was leaving Australia voluntarily and was not being deported.
“Mohamed is very homesick and is pining for his wife and child and he is anxious to get back and see his mother,” Russo said.
Russo said his client would not give up his fight against Andrews’ decision to revoke his work visa on character grounds, and would press ahead with a court appeal in August.
Haneef was arrested at the Brisbane airport on July 2 as he was about to fly to India to see his wife and newborn daughter, and jailed because Andrews revoked his work visa two weeks ago based on confidential briefings by police.
Andrews said Saturday he would not reverse the decision to cancel the visa, despite mounting calls in Australia for the doctor to be allowed back to work.
The Gold Coast Hospital said Haneef’s job was waiting for him if he regains the visa.
Peter Beattie, premier of Queensland state where Haneef has lived and worked for almost a year, said the junior doctor should now be allowed to get on with his life.
“We have to be careful when dealing with potential terrorism threats that we don’t leave the Australian way of life by the wayside,” Beattie said Friday.
Leading Australian newspapers on Saturday called for Haneef’s visa to be returned.
Sydney’s The Saturday Daily Telegraph said Haneef “appears — on the evidence heard so far — to be guilty only of having some very black sheep in the family.”
Haneef’s wife, Firdaus Arshiya, said she was looking forward to her husband’s return.
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