David Hicks

David Hicks

David 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.

In 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.

In 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.

Early life

David 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.

Described 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 for this.

Hicks 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

In 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.


On 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:

"don't 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 Kashmir."

In 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.

Hicks 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."

In 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".

Hicks 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 Hicks said.

Capture and detention

He 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 at all."

In 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 injury
* deprived of sleep
* witness to use of attack dogs to brutalise and injure detainees.

He 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.

According 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 international law.

In 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 his condition".
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.

Hicks' lawyer, Major Michael Mori, described Hicks as one of the best-behaved detainees, and said his solitary confinement, for 23 hours a day, was unnecessary.

In 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.

In 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

The 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.

Rod Smith, the deputy first secretary of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, stated:

"It 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

The U.S. administration has alleged that Hicks:

* Attended advanced al-Qaeda training camps
* Associated with senior al-Qaeda leaders after 9/11
* Was issued weapons to fight US troops in Afghanistan
* Carried out surveillance on US and other international embassies

In 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,"

Hicks 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.

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".

Terry 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.

In 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 for duty'."

In 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."[12] However, many human rights activists have criticised "interrogation" methods at Guantanamo Bay - which have been said to include torture.

On 6 February 2007, the Prime Minister of Australia John Howard stated that Hicks would be released from Guantanamo Bay if Australia requested it.[38] "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.[20] The Australian Government has stated that it would like to see Hicks brought to trial "as soon as possible".

David 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

Hicks's trial was initially set for 10 January 2005. The U.S. Army appointed Major Michael Mori as his defence counsel.

In 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.

The trial was delayed in November 2004 when a U.S. Federal Court ruled that the military commissions in question were neither competent nor lawful.

In 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.

In September it was announced that Hicks's trial would begin on 18 November.

In 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."

In 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 military tribunal.

In 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."

Ruddock responded by saying that the email comments, which were written in March 2004, "must be seen as historic rather than current".

On 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.

In 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 custody.

On 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.

On 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.

On 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.

On 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.

On 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 Rights.

On 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 return."

David 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.


Hicks 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.

The 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.

In 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 Dawood".
* 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 English.
* 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 on television.
* He returned to Afghanistan in anticipation of the attack by the United States and its allies on the Taliban regime, which was sheltering Osama bin Laden.
* 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 forces.

In 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 British citizenship

In 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. [58] In November 2005, the British Home Office rejected Hicks's application for British citizenship on character grounds, but his lawyers appealed the decision.

On 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.

On 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.

On 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.

Hicks's 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. [63] 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.

On 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.

On 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."[66]. 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

Following 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 noose.

According 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

New charges

On 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.[71] However the sentence, which is not required to take into account time already served, is ultimately up to a jury of US military officers.[72][73] The Convening Authority assessed whether there was enough evidence for charges to be laid and Hicks trialled.[74] The charge of providing material support for terrorism was based on retrospectively applying the law passed in 2006.

The Indian government has launched an investigation into alleged attacks by Hicks on their armed forces in Kashmir, 2000.

Speaking 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.

Also on 16 February 2007 a 9-page charge sheet detailing the new charges was officially released by the U.S Defense Dept.

The 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 course.
* Hicks expressed to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden his concern over the lack of English al-Qaeda training materials.
* 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 approval.
* 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.

On 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.[78]

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In 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.[79] 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.

Vickery 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.

Commenting 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 in power."[79]

Vickery noted that Australian Prime Minister John Howard, while commenting on Hicks's case in 2004, stated, "It's fundamentally wrong to make a criminal law retrospective."

The 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.

[edit] Alleged intimidation of defense counsel

On 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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

On 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,[80] and no charges were filed against Major Mori.

Guilty plea and sentence

On 26 March 2007, David Hicks entered a guilty plea to the charge of material support for terrorism.[81] Prosecution and defence attorneys were ordered to draw up a plea agreement by 6am AEST on 27 March 2007.

On 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.[83] 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.[84] 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).

On 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. [86]. Hicks is kept in solitary confinement in South Australia's highest-security ward, G Division.

[edit] Reactions

Australian 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".[88] 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.[89][90] 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.[91] 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.[92]

The 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.[93]

The 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.[94] 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."[95]

Ben Wizner of the American Civil Liberties Union described the case as "an unwitting symbol of our shameful abandonment of the rule of law".[96]

In 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 bargain.[4][5]

[edit] Allegations of political manipulation

Colonel Morris Davis, Chief Prosecutor for the Hicks case, resigned from the U.S. defense force on 5 October 2007[97] citing dissatisfaction with the Guantanamo military commission process. Davis said he felt "pressured to do something less than full, fair and open"[98] and that "as things stand right now, I think it's a disgrace to call it a military commission - it's a political commission".[99] 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.


On 20 May 2007, Hicks was taken to Adelaide's Yatala Labour Prison, and released on 29 December 2007.

Critics 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 custody.

Costs financed by the Australian government include $300,000 for Australian consultants on Hick's defence team, and $500,000 for Hick's chartered repatriation flight.

On Saturday December 29th 2007, David Hicks was released from Adelaide's Yatala Prison after serving his 9 month setence. (Credit: Wikipedia).



Life after Gutmo - David Hicks - Inside and out - 17th August 2007
(Credit: the Bullentin)


Big bucks bidding war set to erupt for Hicks' story - 29th December 2007
(Credit: Sunday Mail)


A MILLION-DOLLAR international bidding war is set to erupt for rights to David Hicks' story.

Australian and US media organisations are expected to fight it out for interviews, book deals and movie rights.

While 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.

A 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.

But Hicks indicated yesterday in a statement that he would speak out once the gag order ended.

Entertainment insiders estimated Hicks' story would be worth at least $1million.

A spokeswoman for celebrity agent Harry M Miller said there would be huge local and international interest in Hicks' tale.

"There 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.

"It's very hard to gauge what an interview would be worth because someone is always going to want an exclusive story – which means big dollars.

"And it's more than likely that someone in the States is going to have more money to offer him."

Mr 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.

"It's very hard to put a price tag on it – it's a very big story," she said.

"It's incredible the amount of money people come up with to offer for an exclusive story.

"It will be very, very interesting."

Another agent said: "There is definitely a million dollars there. He will make a lot of money.

"He will be able to do stories for international TV in America and England as well as press."

It also emerged this week that Hicks' former de facto, Jodie Sparrow, has engaged an agent to handle media inquiries.

Earlier 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 $50,000.

Despite the interest in Hicks, leading celebrity spruiker Max Markson has ruled out representing the convicted terrorism supporter.

"I'm not interested in his story," he said.

"I wouldn't represent him if I got a 100 per cent commission."

Both the SA and Federal Government's have tightened laws to stop Hicks profiting from his experiences.

SA Attorney-General Michael Atkinson said he did not mind Hicks telling his story but he did not want him to profit from it.

"I just do not support a mercenary profiting from selling his story to the highest bidder," he said.

"(His) 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 his story."

Media Man Australia does not represent David Hicks