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Big-buck buzz over Haneef scoop
Haneef in Bangalore. (AFP)

July 29: An interview he gave last night might have made Mohammed Haneef richer by over half a crore.

“Great, actually,” said the doctor when asked how he was feeling, before he flew home.

Channel 9 had scooped the interview for A$200,000 (Rs 70 lakh), a media report said. Earlier, there was talk that rival networks had offered up to A$150,000 (Rs 52.5 lakh).

If true, the money would be enough to cover his legal expenses in Australia — about Rs 13 lakh — with lots to spare.

The channel would not say if it paid him, claiming “persistence and sheer tenacity” had done the trick, and family sources in Bangalore said they had no information about money changing hands for the interview telecast today.

Haneef might have said he was feeling great — about “all the support I had” and that “my Lord has restored my honour” — but was close to tears as he answered questions about whether he was a terrorist or knew his cousins were.

“I never imagined even in my remotest corner of my brain that I would be labelled with such a defaming thing.”

Haneef reached Bangalore at 9.30pm. “I am happy to be here. I am relieved and eager to see my daughter,” he said, carrying a bag of chocolates.

He also has a job offer from Karnataka chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy.

The doctor said he had not expected to have his visa taken after he got bail — “I really didn’t expect those sort of actions from the government” — but did not rule out returning to Australia. “It’s just a matter of my visa to be sorted out.”

But immigration minister Kevin Andrews said the visa would stay cancelled “unless there is some overturning of that by the federal court”.

Andrews, who earlier had no objection to the doctor leaving — “he should remove himself” were his words — today said Haneef’s departure after the terror charges were dropped made him look more suspicious. “If anything, that actually heightens rather than lessens my suspicion.”

In the interview, Haneef said: “I want to meet my family, I have to live with my family now.”

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