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Australia foreign minister denies interference with Hicks plea bargain

[JURIST] Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer [official profile] Tuesday denied allegations that the Australian government was involved in negotiating the plea bargain [JURIST report] of former Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks [JURIST news archive], refuting a report [text] in Harper's Magazine that the plea was the result of a secret deal with US Vice President Dick Cheney. Downer said that the Australian government "promoted" the plea bargain, but did not participate in the negotiations between military prosecutors and Hicks' defense team. The Harper's Magazine report quotes a military officer saying that Cheney intervened in the Hicks' negotiations "apparently" in line with an arrangement made with Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

On Monday, the Australian Federal Police indicated it was planning to subject Hicks to a control order [JURIST report] that would restrict his movements and communications. Hicks, the first Guantanamo detainee to be tried and the only defendant convicted [JURIST reports] under the new Military Commissions Act [PDF text], was transferred to Australia [JURIST report] in May to serve the remainder of his nine-month prison sentence at a maximum security prison near his hometown of Adelaide, South Australia. Hicks has already said that he does not plan to challenge the legality of any control order [JURIST report] imposed after his release from prison in Australia. AFP has more. Australia's ABC News has local coverage.

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