Indian doctor arrested in Australia in connected with attempted terrorist attacks in UK

Police in Australia arrested an Indian doctor in connection with the foiled terror attacks in London and Glasgow as he tried to leave the country and were interviewing a second doctor in the case, officials said Tuesday.

Police seized 27-year-old Muhammad Haneef at the international airport in the eastern city of Brisbane, where he was trying to board a flight with a one-way ticket late Monday, police and government officials said.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty said Haneef was being held under counterterrorism laws that allow him to be detained without charges being immediately filed.

Australian police acted on information received from British authorities to get warrants to search several properties in northeastern Queensland state, he said.

"The grounding for the search warrants was that we were alleging that Dr. Haneef was connected to a terrorist group," Keelty told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

No charges had been filed by late Tuesday, Keelty said. Under federal counterterrorism laws, terror suspects can be held without charge for three days, and for longer periods with court approval.

Keelty said a judge's permission was being sought for police to continue to hold Haneef without charge, but he added that the suspect was cooperating with police and may eventually be released.

"Dr. Haneef may have done nothing wrong and may at the end of the day be free to go," Keelty said.

Prime Minister John Howard identified the arrested man as an Indian national who was granted a temporary work visa after he was hired to work as a doctor at a Queensland hospital last year.

A second doctor at the hospital was being questioned by authorities because of information divulged by the arrested man, Howard said. Authorities did not immediately reveal the nationality of the second man.

Haneef is one of eight people - including at least two other doctors identified by British authorities - arrested over a string of failed terror attacks in Britain. The attack plots include two car bombs that failed to explode in central London on Friday, and two men who rammed a vehicle with gas cylinders into an airport entrance in Glasgow, Scotland, and then set it on fire Saturday.

Officials would not say what the man's alleged involvement in the British terror plots was. They also declined to tell reporters where the man was heading when he was arrested.

Howard, speaking in the national capital of Canberra, refused to say whether British authorities have asked for his extradition.

Queensland leader Peter Beattie said the suspect completed his medical studies in India but came to Australia from Liverpool, Britain.

Records showed he graduated in 2002 from Rajiv Ganghi University of Health Sciences at Bangalore, in the state of Karnataka, the ABC reported.

Haneef had answered an advertisement in the British Medical Journal for a position at Queensland's Gold Coast Hospital, where he had worked since September last year.

"The doctor was regarded by the hospital as, in many senses, a model citizen - excellent references and so on," Beattie told a news conference.

He had not resigned before attempting to leave the country, Beattie said.

Beattie said the second doctor being questioned by police was also recruited from Liverpool. He said authorities are not aware of any specific link between the man and the foiled attacks.

Local media reported that Haneef was about to board a flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, intending to get a connecting flight to India. Officials would not confirm the reports.

Police executed a number of search warrants across Queensland overnight, including at the hospital where Haneef worked.

Attorney General Phillip Ruddock said there was no sign an attack was being planned in Australia.

"While a terrorist attack could certainly be possible in Australia, we have no specific information about any such planned action here," Ruddock said.

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