Matthew Hicks (born 7 August 1975) is an Australian
who, after five years detention by the United
States government under suspicion of involvement
with terrorism, became the first Guantánamo
Bay detainee to be convicted under the U.S. Military
Commissions Act of 2006.
2001, under the alias Muhammed Dawood (the latter
being the Arabic form of "David"), Hicks
undertook military training in al Qaeda-linked
camps and served with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
He was captured by the Northern Alliance, handed
over to the US military, designated an unlawful
combatant and held at Guantánamo Bay, during
which he alleged he was mistreated.
2007, under a pre-trial agreement with convening
authority Judge Susan J. Crawford, Hicks pled
guilty before a United States military tribunal
to a newly codified charge of "providing
material support for terrorism" and was returned
to Australia to serve the remaining nine months
of a mostly suspended seven-year sentence. This
nine month period precluded media contact and
drew criticism for delaying his release until
after the 2007 Australian election. Hicks' detention
without charge, the subsequent trial process and
outcome, and the newly invented legal system and
charges backdated under which these events took
place, drew widespread criticisms and allegations
of political manipulation including the fact that
he took a plea deal to 'escape the hell' of Guantanamo
Bay. He was released from Adelaide's Yatala Labour
Prison on 29 December 2007.
Hicks was born in Adelaide, South Australia to
Terry and Susan Hicks. His parents separated when
he was ten years old, his father later remarrying.
He has one sister.
by his father as "a typical boy who couldn't
settle down" and his former principal as
one of "the most troublesome kids",
Hicks experimented with alcohol and drugs in his
teen years and was expelled from school at age
14. Before turning 15, Hicks was given dispensation
by his father from attending school. He then reportedly
turned to mischief "out on the street"
in order to feed himself, including vehicle theft,
although no adult criminal record was ever recorded
moved between various jobs, including skinning
kangaroos at a meat-packing factory, fishing for
sharks, and working at a series of outback cattle
stations in the Northern Territory, Queensland,
and South Australia. He met his wife by common-law
Jodie Sparrow at one such cattle station in 1992.
Hicks and Sparrow had two children before separating
in 1996. He eventually lost contact with his two
young children. After their separation, Hicks
moved to Japan to become a horse trainer.
Religious and militant activities
1999, Hicks traveled to Albania, joining the Kosovo
Liberation Army (KLA), a paramilitary organization
of ethnic Albanians fighting against Serbian forces
in the Kosovo War, for two months. Upon return
to Australia, Hicks applied to join the Australian
Army but was rejected due to his low level of
formal education.Hicks then converted to Islam,
an observance that reportedly ended during the
earlier years of his detention at Guantánamo.
11 November 1999, Hicks traveled to Pakistan to
study Islam. After a period of time, he began
training with the Lashkar-e-Toiba learning guerrilla
warfare, weapons training (including landmines),
kidnapping techniques, and assassination methods.
In a March 2000 letter to his family, Hicks wrote:
ask what's happened, I can't be bothered explaining
the outcome of these strange events has put me
in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in a training camp.
Three months training. After which it is my decision
whether to cross the line of control into Indian-occupied
another letter on 10 August 2000, Hicks wrote
from Kashmir, claiming to have been a guest of
Pakistan's army for two weeks at the front in
the "controlled war" with India.
allegedly "attended a number of al-Qaeda
training courses at various camps around Afghanistan,
including an advanced course on surveillance,
in which he conducted surveillance of the US and
British embassies in Kabul, Afghanistan".
On one occasion when al-Qaeda founder Osama bin
Laden visited an Afghan camp, Hicks questioned
bin Laden about the lack of English in training
material and subsequently "began to translate
the training camp materials from Arabic to English".
Hicks wrote home that he'd met Osama bin Laden
20 times but later told investigators he had exaggerated,
that he had seen bin Laden about eight times and
spoken to him only once. Prosecutors also allege
Hicks was interviewed by Muhammad Atef, an al-Qaeda
military commander, about his background and "the
travel habits of Australians". The US Department
of Defense statement claimed "that after
viewing TV news coverage in Pakistan of the Sept
11, 2001, attacks against the United States, Hicks
returned to Afghanistan to rejoin his al-Qaeda
associates to fight against US, British, Canadian,
Australian, Afghan, and other coalition forces
[...] It is alleged Hicks armed himself with an
AK-47 automatic rifle, ammunition, and grenades
to fight against coalition forces."
a memoir that was later repudiated by its author,
Guantánamo detainee Feroz Abbasi claimed
Hicks was "Al-Qaedah's 24 [carat] Golden
Boy" and "obviously the favorite recruit"
of their al-Qaeda trainers during exercises at
the al-Farouq camp near Kandahar. The memoir made
a number of claims, including that Hicks was teamed
in the training camp with Filipino recruits from
the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and that during
internment in Camp X-Ray, "Hicks [said] he
was praying to Satan for help".
spoke to his parents from just outside the southern
Afghan city of Kandahar in November 2001. "He
said something about going off to Kabul to defend
it against the Northern Alliance," Terry
Capture and detention
was captured by a "Northern Alliance warlord"
near Kunduz, Afghanistan, on or about 9 December
2001, and turned over to US Special Forces for
$1000 on 17 December 2001. Hicks' father Terry,
when interviewed, said "David was captured
by the Northern Alliance unarmed in the back of
a truck or a van. So it wasn't on the battlefield
an affidavit, dated 5 August 2004 and released
on 10 December 2004, Hicks alleged mistreatment
by his captors, included being:
* beaten while blindfolded and handcuffed
* forced to take unidentified medication
* sedated by injection without consent
* struck while under sedation
* forced to run in leg shackles causing ankle
* deprived of sleep
* witness to use of attack dogs to brutalise and
also said he met with US military investigators
conducting a probe into detainee abuse in Afghanistan
and had told the International Red Cross on earlier
occasions that he had been mistreated.
to conversations with his father, Hicks said he
had been abused by both Northern Alliance and
U.S. soldiers. In response, the Australian government
announced its acceptance of U.S. assurances that
David Hicks have been treated in accordance with
March 2006, camp authorities moved all ten of
the Guantanamo detainees who faced charges into
solitary confinement. This was described as a
routine measure because of the impending attendance
of the detainees at their respective tribunals.
However, Hicks remained in solitary confinement,
for seven weeks after the US Supreme Court's confirmed
a ruling that the commissions were unconstitutional,
which was reported to have "deteriorated
David Hicks's Guantanamo Bay cell (November 2006),
and inset, the reading room with no books . The
window is internal, facing onto a corridor.
David Hicks's Guantanamo Bay cell (November 2006),
and inset, the reading room with no books . The
window is internal, facing onto a corridor.
lawyer, Major Michael Mori, described Hicks as
one of the best-behaved detainees, and said his
solitary confinement, for 23 hours a day, was
2002, Hicks's father sought to have him brought
to Australia for trial. In 2003, the Australian
government requested that Hicks be brought to
trial without further delay, extending Hicks consular
support per its responsibilities and legal aid
under the Special Circumstances Overseas Scheme.
June 2006, Moazzam Begg, a British man who had
also been held at Guantanamo Bay but was released
in 2005, claimed in his book Enemy Combatant:
A British Muslim's Journey to Guantanamo and Back
that Hicks had abandoned his Islamic beliefs,
and had been denounced by a fellow inmate, Uthman
al-Harbi, for his lack of observance. Begg also
recounted Hicks talking about suicidal impulses
during his periods in isolation at Camp Echo,
"He often talked about wanting to smash his
head … against the metal of his cage and
just end it all"
Fear of punishment
Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that,
through his lawyer, Hicks claimed to have declined
a visit from Australian Consular officials because
he had been punished for speaking candidly with
consular officials about the conditions of his
detention on previous visits.
Smith, the deputy first secretary of the Australian
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, stated:
would be a matter of very great concern to us
if Australians in detention overseas were punished
for simply drawing to the attention of consular
officials concerns that [they] have about the
conditions of their detention."
Allegations of support for terrorism
U.S. administration has alleged that Hicks:
* Attended advanced al-Qaeda training camps
* Associated with senior al-Qaeda leaders after
* Was issued weapons to fight US troops in Afghanistan
* Carried out surveillance on US and other international
the documentary Peace, Propaganda and the Promised
Land, Terry Hicks reads out excerpts of David
Hicks's letters, in which Hicks says that his
training in Pakistan and Afghanistan is designed
to ensure "the Western-Jewish domination
is finished, so we live under Muslim law again".
He denounces the plots of the Jews to divide Muslims
and make them think poorly of Osama bin Laden
and warns his father to ignore "the Jews'
propaganda war machine,"
allegedly told fellow recruits at his training
camp he wanted to "go back to Australia and
rob and kill Jews", "crash a plane into
a building", and "go out with that last
big adrenalin rush", that "if he were
to go into a building of Jews with an automatic
weapon or as a suicide bomber he would have to
say something like 'there is no god but Allah'
ect [sic] just so he could see the look of fear
on their faces, before he takes them out,"
writes former Camp X-ray inmate Abbasi, who had
a rivalry with Hicks.
said, in a letter to his father whilst serving
in Kashmir, "I got to fire hundreds of bullets.
Most Muslim countries impose hanging for civilians
arming themselves for conflict. There are not
many countries in the world where a tourist, according
to his visa, can go to stay with the army and
shoot across the border at its enemy, legally".
Hicks claimed that his son was unaware of the
September 11 attacks when they spoke on a mobile
phone a few days after the American bombing campaign
in Afghanistan began."It sounds like Western
propaganda", Hicks told his father.
November 2005, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation
programme Four Corners broadcast for the first
time a transcript of an interview with Hicks,
conducted by the Australian Federal Police in
2002. In this interview, Hicks acknowledged that
he had trained with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, learning
guerrilla tactics and urban warfare. He also acknowledged
that he had met Osama bin Laden. He claimed to
have disapproved of the September 11 attacks but
to have been unable to leave Afghanistan. He denied
engaging in any actual fighting against U.S. or
allied forces. Colonel Morris Davis, chief prosecutor
for the US office of Military Commissions put
it this way; "He eventually left Afghanistan
and it's my understanding was heading back to
Australia when 9/11 happened. When he heard about
9/11, he said it was a good thing (and) he went
back to the battlefield, back to Afghanistan,
and reported in to the senior leadership of al-Qaeda
and basically said, 'I'm David Hicks and I'm reporting
Guantanamo, Hicks signed a statement written by
American military investigators that includes
the following, "I believe that al-Qaeda camps
provided a great opportunity for Muslims like
myself from all over the world to train for military
operations and jihad. I knew after six months
that I was receiving training from al-Qaeda, who
had declared war on numerous countries and peoples."
However, many human rights activists have criticised
"interrogation" methods at Guantanamo
Bay - which have been said to include torture.
6 February 2007, the Prime Minister of Australia
John Howard stated that Hicks would be released
from Guantanamo Bay if Australia requested it.
"Let me, without getting into the weeds of
the technical jargon, let me simply say that it
has gone on for so long now that we will be pressing
the Americans almost on a daily basis," Mr.
Howard has told Southern Cross Broadcasting.
The Australian Government has stated that it would
like to see Hicks brought to trial "as soon
Hicks's defence is being funded by Dick Smith,
an Australian entrepreneur. Smith has stated that
he is funding the defence "to get him [Hicks]
a fair trial".
The cancelled trial
trial was initially set for 10 January 2005. The
U.S. Army appointed Major Michael Mori as his
February the Hicks' family lawyer, Stephen Kenny,
who had been representing Hicks in Australia without
compensation since 2002, was dismissed from the
defence team and Vietnam veteran and Army Reservist
David McLeod replaced him.
trial was delayed in November 2004 when a U.S.
Federal Court ruled that the military commissions
in question were neither competent nor lawful.
July 2005, the U.S. appeals court ruled that the
trial of "Unlawful Combatants" did not
come under the Geneva Convention, and that they
could be tried by a military tribunal.
September it was announced that Hicks's trial
would begin on 18 November.
mid-February 2005, Jumana Musa, Amnesty International's
legal observer at Guantanamo Bay, visited Australia
to speak to Attorney-General Philip Ruddock (a
member of Amnesty International) about the military
commissions. The Sydney Morning Herald quoted
Musa as stating that Australia is, "the only
country that seems to have come out and said that
the idea of trying somebody, their own citizen,
before this process might be OK, and I think that
should be a concern to anybody."
July 2005 a U.S. appeals court accepted the prosecution
claim that because "the President of the
United States issued a memorandum in which he
determined that none of the provisions of the
Geneva Conventions "apply to our conflict
with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan or elsewhere throughout
the world because, among other reasons, al Qaeda
is not a high contracting party to Geneva,"
that Hicks, among others, could be tried by a
early August 2005 leaked emails from former U.S.
prosecutors were obtained by the Australian Broadcasting
Corporation that were critical of the legal process.
They accuse it of being "a half-hearted and
disorganised effort by a skeleton group of relatively
inexperienced attorneys to prosecute fairly low-level
accused in a process that appears to be rigged"
and "writing a motion saying that the process
will be full and fair when you don't really believe
it is kind of hard, particularly when you want
to call yourself an officer and lawyer."
responded by saying that the email comments, which
were written in March 2004, "must be seen
as historic rather than current".
21 October 2005, The Age reported that the U.S.
government announced that if Hicks was convicted
it wouldn't count the time he has been detained
against his sentence.
the Four Corners interview, Terry Hicks discussed
"allegations of physical and sexual abuse
of his son by American soldiers". He said
that David Hicks had objects inserted into his
anus and had been repeatedly beaten while in American
15 November 2005 District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly
stayed the proceeding against Hicks until the
U.S. Supreme Court had ruled on Hamdan's appeal
over their constitutionality.
29 June 2006, in the case Hamdan v. Rumsfeld,
the United States Supreme Court ruled that the
military tribunals were illegal under United States
law and the Geneva Conventions.
7 July 2006 a memo was issued from The Pentagon
directing that all military detainees are entitled
to humane treatment and to certain basic legal
standards, as required by Common Article 3 of
the Geneva Conventions.
15 August 2006 Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock
announced that he would seek to return Hicks to
Australia if the United States did not proceed
quickly to lay substantive new charges.
6 December 2006 Hicks's legal team lodged documents
with the Federal Court of Australia, arguing that
the Australian government had breached its protective
duty to Hicks as an Australian citizen in custody
overseas, and failed to request that Hicks's incarceration
by the U.S. comply with the Geneva Convention,
the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human
26 March 2007 Leigh Sales reported, "The
Hicks defence strategy relies on delaying the
process for so long that the Australian Government
will be forced to ask for the prisoner’s
Hicks is expected to bring a case seeking to force
the Australian Federal Government to ask the U.S.
government to free him, his lawyer said on 9 March
2007, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
was charged by a U.S. military commission, on
26 August 2004; however, that commission was subsequently
abolished and the charges thus voided when on
29 June 2006, in the case Hamdan v. Rumsfeld,
the United States Supreme Court ruled that the
military commissions were illegal under United
States law and the Geneva Conventions.
indictment prepared for the previously scheduled
trial had alleged that Hicks had trained and conspired
in various ways, and was guilty of "aiding
the enemy" while an "unprivileged belligerent".
No specific acts of violence were alleged. He
was detained in December 2001.
the voided indictment of Hicks, the United States
government had alleged that:
* In November 1999 Hicks travelled to Pakistan,
where he joined the paramilitary Islamist group,
Lashkar-e-Toiba (Army of the Faithful).
* Hicks trained for two months at a Lashkar-e-Toiba
camp in Pakistan, where he received weapons training,
and that during 2000 he served with a Lashkar-e-Toiba
group near the Pakistan-Kashmir.
* In January 2001 Hicks travelled to Afghanistan,
then under the control of the Taliban regime,
where he presented a letter of introduction from
Lashkar-e-Toiba to Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a senior
al-Qaeda member, and was given the alias "Mohammed
* He was sent to al-Qaeda's al-Farouq training
camp outside Kandahar, where he trained for eight
weeks, receiving further weapons training as well
as training with land mines and explosives.
* He did a further seven-week course at al-Farouq,
during which he studied marksmanship, ambush,
camouflage and intelligence techniques.
* At Osama bin Laden's request, Hicks translated
some al-Qaeda training materials from Arabic into
* In June 2001, on the instructions of Mohammed
Atef, an al-Qaeda military commander, Hicks went
to another training camp at Tarnak Farm, where
he studied "urban tactics," including
the use of assault and sniper rifles, rappelling,
kidnapping and assassination techniques.
* In August Hicks went to Kabul, where he studied
information collection and intelligence, as well
as Islamic theology including the doctrines of
jihad and martyrdom as understood through al-Qaeda's
fundamentalist interpretation of Islam.
* In September 2001 Hicks travelled to Pakistan
and was there at the time of the September 11,
2001 attacks on the United States, which he saw
* He returned to Afghanistan in anticipation of
the attack by the United States and its allies
on the Taliban regime, which was sheltering Osama
* On returning to Kabul, Hicks was assigned by
Mohammed Atef to the defence of Kandahar, and
that he joined a group of mixed al-Qaeda and Taliban
fighters at Kandahar airport, and that at the
end of October, however, Hicks and his party travelled
north to join in the fighting against the forces
of the U.S. and its allies.
* After arriving in Konduz on 9 November 2001,
he joined a group which included John Walker Lindh
(the "American Taliban"). This group
was engaged in combat against Coalition forces,
and during this fighting he was captured by Coalition
an interview with The Age newspaper in January
2007, Col. Morris Davis, the chief prosecutor
in the Guantanamo military commissions, also alleged
that Hicks had been issued with weapons to fight
U.S. troops, and had conducted surveillance against
U.S. and international embassies. Davis stated
he would be charged for these offences, and predicted
the charging would take place before the end of
January. He compared Hicks to the Bali bombers,
expressing concern that Australians were misjudging
the military commission system due to PR "smoke"
from Major Mori.
British citizenship bid
Wikinews has related news:
Australian Guantanamo detainee David Hicks gets
September 2005, it was realised that Hicks may
be eligible for British citizenship through his
mother, as a consequence of the Nationality, Immigration
and Asylum Act 2002. Hicks's British heritage
was revealed during a casual conversation with
his lawyer, Major Michael Mori, about the 2005
Ashes cricket series. The British government had
previously negotiated the release of the nine
British nationals incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay,
so it was considered possible that these releases
could be extended to Hicks if his application
was successful.  In November 2005, the British
Home Office rejected Hicks's application for British
citizenship on character grounds, but his lawyers
appealed the decision.
13 December 2005 Lord Justice Lawrence Collins
of the High Court ruled that then-Home Secretary
Charles Clarke had "no power in law"
to deprive Mr Hicks of British citizenship "and
so he must be registered". The Home Office
announced it would take the matter to the Court
of Appeal, but Justice Collins denied them a stay
of judgement, meaning that the British government
must proceed with the application.
17 March 2006 the Home Office alleged during its
appeal case that Hicks had admitted in 2003 to
the Security Service (British intelligence agency
MI5) that he had undergone extensive terrorist
training in Afghanistan.
12 April 2006 the Court of Appeal upheld the High
Court's decision that Hicks was entitled to British
citizenship. The Home Office declared it would
appeal the matter again, its last option being
to submit an appeal to Britain's highest court,
the House of Lords, no later than 25 April. On
5 May, however, the Court of Appeal declared that
no further appeals would be allowed, and that
the Home Office must grant Hicks British citizenship.
legal team claimed in the High Court on 14 June
2006 that the process of Mr Hicks's registration
as a British citizen had been delayed and obstructed
by the United States, which had not allowed British
consular access to Hicks in order to conduct the
oath of allegiance to the Queen and the United
Kingdom.  His lawyer, Major Mori, as an officer
in the United States Marine Corps has the authority
to administer oaths and offered to conduct the
oath if the British government permitted it.
27 June, with Hicks's British citizenship confirmed,
the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office announced
that it would not seek to lobby for his release
as it had with the other British detainees. The
reason given was that Hicks was an Australian
citizen when he was captured and detained, and
that he had received Australian consular assistance.
5 July 2006 Hicks was registered as a British
citizen, albeit only for a few hours—Home
Secretary John Reid intervened to revoke Hicks's
new citizenship almost as soon as it had been
granted, citing a provision of the Immigration,
Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 allowing the Home
Secretary to "deprive a person of a citizenship
status if the Secretary of State is satisfied
that deprivation is conducive to the public good.".
Hicks's legal team called the decision an "abuse
of power", and announced they would lodge
an appeal with the UK Special Immigration Appeals
Commission and the High Court.
Seizure of Hicks's legal papers
the suicide of three detainees, camp authorities
seized prisoners' papers, describing it as a security
measure. They claimed that they had found notes,
written on the stationery issued to the lawyers
who meet with detainees to discuss their habeas
corpus requests, describing how to tie a hangman's
to the Sydney Morning Herald the Department of
Justice acknowledged in court that "attorney-client
communications" had been seized. Hicks's
lawyer, Major Michael Mori questioned whether
Hicks could have been part of a suicide plot,
since he had spent the previous four months in
solitary confinement in an entirely different
part of the camps. According to the report, Mori
commented that the confidentiality of attorney-client
communications was: "...the last legal right
that was being respected.", and that: "Now
it appears that that's been violated as well."
The new trial
3 February 2007, the US military commission announced
that it prepared new charges against David Hicks.
The drafted charges were attempted murder and
providing material support for terrorism under
the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Each offence
carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
The prosecutors said they would argue for a gaol
term of 20 years, with an absolute minimum of
15 years to be served. However the sentence,
which is not required to take into account time
already served, is ultimately up to a jury of
US military officers. The Convening Authority
assessed whether there was enough evidence for
charges to be laid and Hicks trialled. The
charge of providing material support for terrorism
was based on retrospectively applying the law
passed in 2006.
Indian government has launched an investigation
into alleged attacks by Hicks on their armed forces
in Kashmir, 2000.
at the Human Rights Education Conference on 16
February 2007, former Australian Prime Minister
Malcolm Fraser accused the Australian Government
of betraying Hicks's rights and said that the
military commission has been structured to produce
a guilty verdict.
on 16 February 2007 a 9-page charge sheet detailing
the new charges was officially released by the
U.S Defense Dept.
charge sheets alleged that:
* In early 2001 Hicks personally collected intelligence
on the U.S embassy in Kabul Afghanistan as part
of an al-Qaeda training exercise.
* Hicks travelled between Pakistan and Afghanistan
before and after the September 11 terrorist attacks
on New York and Washington, D.C.
* Using the name Abu Muslim Austraili he attended
al-Qaeda training camps.
* In April 2001 Hicks also trained in al-Qaeda's
guerrilla warfare and mountain tactics training
* Hicks expressed to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin
Laden his concern over the lack of English al-Qaeda
* On or about 9 September, 2001 Hicks travelled
to Pakistan, and that while at a friend's house
he watched the September 11 terrorist attacks
on New York and Washington, D.C. and expressed
* On his return to Afghanistan Hicks was issued
an AK-47 automatic rifle and armed himself with
300 rounds of ammunition and 3 grenades to use
in fighting the United States, Northern Alliance
and other coalition forces.
March 1, 2007, David Hicks was formally charged
with material support for terrorism, and referred
to trial by the special military commission. The
second charge of attempted murder was dismissed
by Judge Susan Crawford, who concluded there was
"no probable cause" to justify the charge.
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a March 11, 2007 opinion editorial in the Australian
newspaper The Age, Peter Vickery a Special Reporter
of the International Commission of Jurists, asserted
that the sole remaining charge against Hicks was
in violation of both Australian law and International
treaties. Vickery stated that the offence
of "providing material support for terrorism"
was a "retrospective offence". Australian
law proscribes prosecution for offences committed
before the laws that made them indictable offences
had come into force. According to Vickery so do
both the Geneva Conventions, and the Civil and
Political Covenant — both treaties to which
the USA and Australia are signatories.
believes the offence of "providing material
support for terrorism" only became an offence
when President Bush signed the Military Commissions
Act into law, on October 17th 2006.
on why individuals are protected from prosecution
from retrospective offences Vickery wrote: "It
deprives people of the knowledge of what behaviour
will or will not be punished and makes breaches
of the criminal law a lottery at the whim of those
noted that Australian Prime Minister John Howard,
while commenting on Hicks's case in 2004, stated,
"It's fundamentally wrong to make a criminal
United States went on to assert that the charges
relating to Hicks were not retrospective but that
the Military Commisions Act had codified offences
that had been traditionally tried by military
commissions and did not establish any new crimes.
Alleged intimidation of defense counsel
March 5, 2007, Fairfax media reported the prospect
that David Hicks's trial might be postponed again,
after his lawyer Major Michael Mori was allegedly
threatened with a US military discipline offence
by the Chief US military prosecutor, Colonel Morris
Davis. Colonel Davis had criticised Major Mori's
trips to Australia as excessive and accused him
of breaching Article 88 of the US military code,
which relates to using contemptuous language towards
the US President, Vice-President, and Secretary
of Defense. Major Mori raised
the concern that he was facing a conflict of interest
and may need to excuse himself from the case due
to a lack of impartiality.
March 5, 2007 Colonel Davis denied making threats
to have Major Mori court martialled, stating that
he did not have the power to even bring charges,
and no charges were filed against Major Mori.
Guilty plea and sentence
26 March 2007, David Hicks entered a guilty plea
to the charge of material support for terrorism.
Prosecution and defence attorneys were ordered
to draw up a plea agreement by 6am AEST on 27
31 March 2007, a US military tribunal handed down
a seven year jail sentence to David Hicks on charge
of supporting terrorism but suspended all but
9 months. A stipulation of the plea bargain
ensured that the 5 years that Hicks remained at
Guantanamo Bay would not be subtracted from any
sentence handed down by the military tribunal.
Further conditions are that Hicks should not speak
to the media for one year, Hicks is to not take
legal action against the United States and that
Hicks is to withdraw allegations that the US military
abused him. In the first conviction by the
Guantanamo military tribunal and the first conviction
in a US war crimes trial since World War II, a
panel of military officers had recommended a maximum
sentence of twelve years (seven years in addition
to the five served before trial).
20 May 2007 Hicks arrived at RAAF Base Edinburgh
in Adelaide, South Australia on a chartered flight,
reported to have cost Australian taxpayers in
excess of $AUD500,000. He was driven to Adelaide's
Yatala Labour Prison, where he served the remainder
of his sentence prior to his release on 29 December
2007. . Hicks is kept in solitary confinement
in South Australia's highest-security ward, G
and US critics speculated that the one-year media
ban was a condition requested by the Australian
government and granted as a political favour.
Senator Bob Brown of the Australian Green Party
said, "America's guarantee of free speech
under its constitution would have rendered such
a gag illegal in the US". The Australian
government has denied that this media ban had
anything to do with itself or an Australian federal
election being due by January 2008. The
Prime Minister told reporters; "We did not
impose the sentence, the sentence was imposed
by the military commission and the plea bargain
was worked out between the military prosecution
and Mr Hicks's lawyers, and the suggestion …
that it's got something to do with the Australian
election is absurd." Brigadier-General Thomas
Hemingway, the legal adviser to the military tribunal
convening authority, has since claimed the gag
order as his idea. Federal Attorney-General
Philip Ruddock stated that Australian law would
not prohibit Hicks from speaking to media, although
Hicks would be prevented from selling his story.
Law Council of Australia reported that the trial
was "a contrived affair played out for the
benefit of the media and the public", "designed
to lay a veneer of due process over a political
and pragmatic bargain", serving to corrode
the rule of law. They referred to government support
for the military tribunal process as shameful.
length of the sentence caused an "outcry"
in the United States and against Defense Department
lawyer Susan Crawford, who allegedly bypassed
the prosecution in order to meet an agreement
with the defense made before the trial. Chief
prosecutor Colonel Davis was unaware of the plea
deal and surprised at the nine-month sentence,
telling The Washington Post "I wasn't considering
anything that didn't have two digits", meaning
a sentence of at least 10 years. The Los Angeles
Times said "Bringing [Hicks'] case to the
war crimes tribunal first, and before all the
procedural guidance was ready, left the impression
with many legal analysts that Crawford stepped
in to do Howard a favour — at the expense
of the commission's credibility."
Wizner of the American Civil Liberties Union described
the case as "an unwitting symbol of our shameful
abandonment of the rule of law".
October 2007, an allegation by an unnamed U.S.
military officer, that a high-level political
agreement had occurred in the Hicks case, was
reported. The officer said that "one of our
staffers was present when Vice-President Cheney
interfered directly to get Hicks's plea bargain
deal. He did it apparently, as part of a deal
cut with Howard". Australian Prime Minister
John Howard denied any involvement in Hicks' plea
Allegations of political manipulation
Morris Davis, Chief Prosecutor for the Hicks case,
resigned from the U.S. defense force on 5 October
2007 citing dissatisfaction with the Guantanamo
military commission process. Davis said he felt
"pressured to do something less than full,
fair and open" and that "as things
stand right now, I think it's a disgrace to call
it a military commission - it's a political commission".
Later that month, allegations by an unnamed U.S.
military officer were reported that a high-level
political agreement had occurred in the Hicks
case. The officer said that "one of our staffers
was present when Vice-President Cheney interfered
directly to get Hicks's plea bargain deal. He
did it apparently, as part of a deal cut with
Howard". Australian Prime Minister John Howard
denied any involvement in Hicks' plea bargain.
20 May 2007, Hicks was taken to Adelaide's Yatala
Labour Prison, and released on 29 December 2007.
said that he had received a chartered air flight
from Guantanamo Bay to Australia as a result of
being a high profile prisoner but they did not
realise that David Hicks was refused permission
by the USA to fly into their air space so other
transportation means were needed. This highlights
the fact that he was brought in to Guantanamo
Bay through USA air space but was refused access
to that US air space when released into Australian
financed by the Australian government include
$300,000 for Australian consultants on Hick's
defence team, and $500,000 for Hick's chartered
Saturday December 29th 2007, David Hicks was released
from Adelaide's Yatala Prison after serving his
9 month setence. (Credit:
after Gutmo - David Hicks - Inside and out - 17th
bucks bidding war set to erupt for Hicks' story
- 29th December 2007
MILLION-DOLLAR international bidding war is set
to erupt for rights to David Hicks' story.
and US media organisations are expected to fight
it out for interviews, book deals and movie rights.
legislation prevents Hicks from personally profiting
from his story, his father Terry has reportedly
indicated the family had been advised on possible
loopholes in the laws.
gag order – part of the deal which brought
Hicks back to Australia this year to complete
his sentence – prevents him from speaking
out about his experiences until the end of March.
Hicks indicated yesterday in a statement that
he would speak out once the gag order ended.
insiders estimated Hicks' story would be worth
at least $1million.
spokeswoman for celebrity agent Harry M Miller
said there would be huge local and international
interest in Hicks' tale.
is going to be a lot of interest in him in Australia
and around the world until he is able to tell
his story," she said.
very hard to gauge what an interview would be
worth because someone is always going to want
an exclusive story – which means big dollars.
it's more than likely that someone in the States
is going to have more money to offer him."
Miller's spokeswoman said there had already been
talk of book deals and there would be many opportunities
for paid interviews when the gag order finished.
very hard to put a price tag on it – it's
a very big story," she said.
incredible the amount of money people come up
with to offer for an exclusive story.
will be very, very interesting."
agent said: "There is definitely a million
dollars there. He will make a lot of money.
will be able to do stories for international TV
in America and England as well as press."
also emerged this week that Hicks' former de facto,
Jodie Sparrow, has engaged an agent to handle
this year Ms Sparrow and her children with Hicks,
Bonnie and Terry, appeared on 60 Minutes, in a
deal estimated to be worth between $25,000 and
the interest in Hicks, leading celebrity spruiker
Max Markson has ruled out representing the convicted
not interested in his story," he said.
wouldn't represent him if I got a 100 per cent
the SA and Federal Government's have tightened
laws to stop Hicks profiting from his experiences.
Attorney-General Michael Atkinson said he did
not mind Hicks telling his story but he did not
want him to profit from it.
just do not support a mercenary profiting from
selling his story to the highest bidder,"
release will undoubtedly descend into a media
circus but now it will not be one where the main
act walks away with a pile of cash for selling
Media Man Australia does not represent David Hicks