Although there has been a host of misinformation, the following are some facts surrounding the David Hicks’ case.
David Hicks is not a terrorist- David has never been accused of hurting anyone, participating in, supporting, preparing for or knowing about the preparation of a terrorist act. The final charge in the Military Commissions hearing was one count under the Material Support for Terrorism charge- which was foreign to Australian and international law- that did not accuse him of personally supporting terrorism, rather, it was alleged that he associated with an organisation that supported terrorism.
David Hicks did not ‘confess’ to supporting terrorism-David’s legal team submitted what is called the Alford Plea. This is a US based plea in which an accused person can agree to plead guilty whilst maintaining innocence. David has always maintained his innocence and strongly denies that he was involved with any terrorist organisations.
David Hicks has not hurt anyone- Even in the created charges, there has never been an allegation that David engaged in a violent act against any person. There has never been any evidence to the contrary.
David Hicks has not had a trial, let alone a fair one- David was asked to sign a plea deal which ensured he would be out of Guantanamo Bay in sixty days. The deal meant that there was never an opportunity for a trial because the deal had already been arranged, including the sentence.
The Military Commissions are not legitimate courts- many people believe that the Military Commissions under the now defunct 2006 Military Commissions Acts are like normal courts. They are completely different.
The military Commissions process was so flawed that President Obama has replaced it with a 2009 Military Commissions Act. A host of former Bush administration officials, including the chief prosecutor in David’s case also resigned due to the political interference and unfairness of the process.
The Plea Agreement is unenforceable and conviction remains invalid- Due to the illegality of the 2006 Military Commissions Act, and the fact that David Hicks was under duress at the time of signing, the Plea Agreement is unenforceable in a regular court. Due to the illegality of the system, the conviction is therefore unlawful and invalid. David waits for the Australian government to publically recognise the unlawfulness of the agreement.
David Hicks has not broken any Australian Law- This includes all crimes under the Crimes Act. David Hicks’ actions were not illegal. The fact that David had not committed any crime was admitted by former Prime Minister John Howard himself.
Detainees in Guantanamo Bay were subjected to conditions amounting to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment- There is evidence that all detainees, including David Hicks were subjected to conditions that contravene the Convention against Torture. These include being subjected to violent beatings that resulted in broken bones, isolation (complete incommunicado), sleep deprivation, short shackling, sensory deprivation/bombardment, temperature extremes, sexual abuse, medical experimentation, mock executions (including during interrogations) and psychological torture techniques (eg. Telling a detainee something awful will happen to their family if they don’t cooperate). Evidence of the beatings David endured was obtained by David’s military lawyer Michael Mori, however, the current US administration refuses to release any evidence. There are also photos of David naked, shackled and hooded in the Pentagon.
It has never been proven that David Hicks undertook terrorist training- In addition, there has never been any evidence to establish this. In fact, several independent sources, including members of the Australian Military, have confirmed that the training David received was basic and standard military training, poor in quality to that received by our Australian troops. There is no evidence to suggest that David received training in bomb making, flying planes into buildings or targeting civilians- the training was centred around soldier to soldier combat catered to the conditions of the terrain in Kashmir. There is evidence to suggest that terrorists recruited people from the military training camps- this is very different to the camps teaching terrorist tactics.
David Hicks was not a member of a terrorist organisation- David did not swear allegiance to any organisation whilst overseas (except NATO)- his sole motivations were to assist the Kashmiri people. At the time that David Hicks was undergoing military training in Kashmir and Afghanistan, LeT was not a designated terrorist organisation and the final charge sheet does not suggest that he was a member of al-Qaeda. The term al-Qaeda was never mentioned in his letters home (which would have been if he were a member), and David states in his book that he did not hear of the organisation until he arrived in Guantanamo. There has not been any proof to link David with the planning or intent of committing terrorist acts- and he was not accused of such. David has stated that if there was any indication that any of the people he was with were engaged in terrorism, he would not have been there.
David Hicks did not fight against Australian or US troops, nor did he have any intention to- There were no coalition forces on the ground in Kunduz at the time that David was there. David Hicks did not fire one shot outside of military training in Afghanistan- this was acknowledged by the U.S. David did not at any point engage foreign soldiers in combat.
David Hicks was not ‘caught fighting with al-Qaeda’- David was taken at a taxi stand whilst trying to come back home to Australia by the Northern Alliance (Afghan forces), he was then sold to the US military for approximately US$1000.
David Hicks was not photographed training with or fighting with terrorist groups in Afghanistan- the infamous photo of David with an unloaded RPG was taken in Albania when he was training with the Kosovo Liberation Army under NATO. The complete un-cropped photo shows David with two other friends who took unloaded weapons out of a storage room to pose for a photo. One of the men is wearing slippers. Below is an example of one of the many photos taken in Albania.