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Government of Australia

(Federal/State Govt. / Local Govt./Govt. Bodies) Canberra AUSTRALIA
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Australia admits errors made in Indian 'terror' doctor case    
The Australian government Tuesday admitted mistakes were made at the highest level when it wrongfully charged an Indian doctor over a botched British terror plot and forced him to leave the country.
Attorney-General Robert McClelland said changes would be made to Australia's anti-terrorism laws after a report into the treatment of Mohamed Haneef found he was wrongly charged in connection with failed attacks in London and Glasgow.
"The report speaks for itself. Clearly there were errors made at a number of levels, including at the highest level," McClelland told a press conference.
Retired judge John Clarke's much-anticipated report on the bungled case, commissioned by McClelland in March, found there was insufficient evidence to charge Haneef and that the cancellation of his visa should have been deferred.
But the inquiry cleared the then government of conservative leader John Howard of improper behaviour or political motivation in pursuing the case.
Following a tip off from British authorities, federal police arrested Haneef in July 2007 as he tried to leave Brisbane airport for India. He was held for almost two weeks without charge.
He was later accused of having links to the militants responsible for failed car bombings in London and Glasgow but the case against him quickly collapsed.
But by then, the government had cancelled Haneef's visa and he was forced to return to India.
Clarke said he found "no evidence that he (Haneef) was associated with or had foreknowledge of the terrorist events" in London and Glasgow on June 29 and 30, 2007.
He said he was surprised that no one involved in the police investigation "stood back at any time prior to the decision to charge (Haneef) and reflected on what Dr. Haneef was known to have done."
McClelland said the government accepted all 10 of Clarke's recommendations, including that an independent review of national counter-terrorism laws be conducted.
The attorney-general said a special parliamentary committee on law enforcement would also be created to extend parliamentary oversight of intelligence agencies and federal police.
"The focus of these powers, that is specifically the counter-terrorism laws, will remain on preventing a terrorism attack from occurring in the first place, not just waiting to punish those who would commit such heinous crimes until after they occur," said McClelland.
The Australian Federal Police accepted the findings of the Clarke inquiry but was quick to defend its handling of the Haneef matter.
"All actions were undertaken in good faith and in the best interests of public safety, given the circumstances at the time," it said in a statement.
Government of Australia 's City : Canberra
Government of Australia 's Country : AUSTRALIA
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