Seeking Justice: Former Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks seeks formal recognition of unlawful conviction
Today appeal documents have been lodged in the United States to appeal David Hicks’ 2007 Military Commissions conviction. This appeal has been lodged by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and co-counsel Joseph Margulies and seeks to vacate Hicks’ conviction in the military commissions for “material support for terrorism.” The appeal comes in the wake of the D.C. Circuit’s 2012 decision in Hamdan v. United States, which held that material support for terrorism is not a war crime and thus beyond the jurisdiction of military commissions.
“The D.C. court’s rejection of material support as a war crime is a reminder that a military commission prosecution can unravel at any time” said CCR Senior Staff Attorney Wells Dixon. “Years after Hicks was convicted and served his sentence, a federal court has concluded that the process by which he was convicted was unlawful. This is just another reason why Obama needs to end the failed experiment in Guantánamo.”
In a 74-page affidavit released in 2004, Hicks detailed torture he suffered at the hands of U.S. forces during the five and a half years he spent at Guantánamo, which included beatings, forced sedation, and sexual assault. In 2007, he entered an Alford plea, in which he pleaded guilty while continuing to assert his innocence. According to Hicks the plea was coerced and he pleaded guilty only because he believed it was the only way to get out of Guantánamo and escape the ongoing abuse and torture.
“Today is just the first step in a long process to correct the wrongs committed against me,” said David Hicks. “I was detained for six years without having committed an offense (as recognized by the CDPP in the proceeds hearing) and was tortured and pressured with duress into making unfair decisions which did not reflect the facts. I had no choice but to sign the plea deal or I would have died in Guantánamo.”
After his release from Guantánamo, Hicks returned to Australia and was placed under a one-year gag order prohibiting him from speaking to the media. As part of his plea agreement, he was also required to withdraw allegations that the U.S. military abused him and agree not to take legal action against the United States.
Co-counsel in the case are Joseph Margulies and military defense counsel Samuel Morrison and Captain Justin Swick. David Hicks is represented in Australia by Stephen Kenny. The case is Hicks v. United States.
David Hicks said, “I am looking forward to putting Guantanamo behind me, and this formal acknowledgement of the illegality of the military commissions system is the final step in that process”.
We greatly appreciate and support the work of the CCR. The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.