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Wary PM warns of new grievances
- Doctor free of charge, not taint

London, July 5: Mohammed Asif Ali, a 26-year-old Indian doctor just married and looking forward to a bright future in Australia, has had his life turned upside down in the past 48 hours.

“Please leave me alone. I don’t know anything,” he begged reporters after being released without charge late last night. He had been taken in for questioning in connection with the failed car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow.

Ali said he was extremely tired and just wanted to sleep. The manager of his apartment block near Gold Coast Hospital where Ali started working six months ago said the doctor was “petrified” after his ordeal.

Mick Keelty, the Australian federal police commissioner, said Ali had not committed any crime and was free to go about his business. “There is nothing to suggest he has committed any offences at this point in time,” he said.

Police sources described Ali as a man who had simply made an “unfortunate acquaintance” in his friendship with Mohammed Haneef, another Indian doctor working at the same hospital who is still being questioned.

But the damage had already been done to Ali’s reputation, his face plastered on tabloid newspapers, under headlines such as The Enemy Within and Terror Link on Our Doorstep.

Ali had recently come to India to get married and returned with sweets for everyone at the hospital. He had immediately applied for a visa for his wife.

Gold Coast Health Service’s acting manager Dr Brian Bell said Ali was an “excellent young doctor”. He said Ali was well regarded by colleagues and patients and it was hoped he would return to work. “But obviously, it’s going to be very difficult for him. We’re hoping that transition for him back into the workforce shouldn’t be too painful,” he said.

The Queensland government has offered its support amid fears that publicity surrounding the case could drive Ali from his job.

Health minister Stephen Robertson said Uschi Schreiber, the state’s top health official, had been in contact with the Gold Coast Hospital to ensure Ali be given “appropriate assistance”.

Peter Beattie, the state Premier, said there was “no reason” why Ali could not return to work. “But bearing in mind the amount of media focus on this and the attention on the hospital, Queensland Health will need to talk through with him whether this is an appropriate place for him to actually practice medicine,” he said.

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