Family of Indian doctor arrested in Australia over British terror attacks says he is innocent

The family of an Indian doctor detained in Australia in connection with failed terror plots in Britain insisted Wednesday he was innocent and heading to India to see his newborn daughter when he was arrested.

Australian authorities say they detained Muhammad Haneef, 27, late Monday at Melbourne airport as he tried to board a flight, and he was arrested based on information forwarded by British officials.

"He has been detained unnecessarily. He is innocent," Qurat-ul-ain, Haneef's mother, told The Associated Press in the southern Indian city of Bangalore.

The son of a school teacher, Haneef was raised in the Karnataka state town of Moodigere. His family now lives in an apartment in an upscale area of Bangalore where they moved after his father died 10 years ago.

He studied at the Rajiv Gandhi Health University's medical college in Bangalore from 1997-2002, The Times of India newspaper quoted S. Sachhidanand, a university registrar, as saying.

Haneef is one of eight men - all of them health workers - detained in connection with failed car bomb plots Friday and Saturday in London and Glasgow, Scotland.

Officials in Australia, where Haneef worked at a hospital, have noted publicly that Haneef had a one-way ticket when he was arrested at the airport.

Sumaiya, Haneef's sister, said Wednesday Haneef was coming to Bangalore from Australia to see his daughter who was born a week ago. Sumaiya uses one name.

"He called us before leaving (Australia). We came to know about his detention through media," Sumaiya said.

"He is a responsible citizen of the country and the Indian government should help us get him back," she said. "His aim has been to be a good doctor."

The family hasn't been able to contact Haneef.

"He is all alone there. I am frantically trying to contact him in Melbourne through the Indian Embassy," Haneef's wife, Firdous, told The Times of India.