Until today the government claimed they did not know if Habib had ever been in Egypt. the fact that he was delivered from US custody into some other mysterious place and then delivered from said mysterious custody back into US custody rather suggests the US government knew where Habib was all along. But not to the likes of Howard, Ruddock and Downer.
14/02/2005 Govt condemns torture
KERRY O'BRIEN: Is it equally believable that when Mr Habib disappeared from Pakistan, Australian officials involved at some stages in the interrogation process were left in the dark as to where he'd gone and couldn't find out, didn't know?
PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, we asked and we weren't informed.
KERRY O'BRIEN: Isn't that odd, for such a strong ally, that we would be treated with such contempt?
PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, I simply make the point, in relation to this matter, we were seeking consular access in Pakistan. It was denied.
KERRY O'BRIEN: But your ASIO agents in Pakistan had access.
PHILIP RUDDOCK: Yes, they did.
KERRY O'BRIEN: The person they had access to, an Australian citizen, a terrorist suspect, disappears. They ask where he's gone and they're not answered.
PHILIP RUDDOCK: Yes, and we continued to press for that information, and when we surmised that he might have been taken to Egypt, because there were some suggestions around that that might have happened, we sought consular access at the highest level in Egypt and Egypt denied at all times that he was there.
KERRY O'BRIEN: And three years later, you still don't know where he was then, the Americans still won't tell you, the Egyptians still won't tell you, the Pakistanis won't tell you?
PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, I'm simply saying, Kerry, to you, and I've said it in relation to questions put to me by others, that we sought consular access to him, as we would for any Australian, right through this period. We don't always get access, but we sought it and we continued to seek it. We were denied it in Egypt, we were denied it in Pakistan, we were allowed it at Guantanamo Bay.
KERRY O'BRIEN: Are you in a position to deny that the Americans involved with Mr Habib in Pakistan may have worked with Pakistan and the Egyptians to have Mamdouh Habib taken to Egypt for tough off the books interrogations where the niceties of human rights wouldn't have to be observed?
PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, I'm not able to make observations on matters that I have no personal knowledge, and I have no knowledge...
ASIO confirms Habib was held in Egypt
ASIO has now told the Senate estimates committee that ASIO knew Habib hd been sent to Egypt. I'll post an extract from the transcript when it becomes available.
Today the director-general of ASIO, Dennis Richardson, told a Senate estimates committee the intelligence organisation knew he was there.
"We established to our satisfaction he was definitely there in February of 2002," he said.
Mr Richardson also told the committee when ASIO first interviewed Mr Habib in Pakistan officers did not believe his claims of torture.
"It was dismissed because we had a fairly good idea of what he'd been up to," Mr Richardson said.
"He was actually with people in Afghanistan who have a history of murdering innocent civilians.
"We didn't consider they needed to be considered, nor investigated. We considered they were humbug and we believe they're humbug today if he was to raise them again."
Is the government now saying that ASIO knew but that (as usual) ASIO did not inform the government? This story is falling apart and it is time for a judicial inquiry with the right to compel evidence from ministers and their political apparatchiks.