The former defense lawyer for Australian ex-Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks [JURIST news archives] said Sunday that his former client should be cleared of all links to terrorism because he never committed a crime. The lawyer, Steve Kenny, said he has been unable [AAP report] to find a law that Hicks had broken, either under Australian, Afghan or international law, and was actually prosecuted for a crime that did not exist at the time of his trial. Hicks was convicted [JURIST report] of one charge of providing material support for terrorism at his US military commission [JURIST news archive] after pleading guilty in 2007. In a letter [text] to The Canberra Times [media website] on Monday, the watchdog Australia Defence Association (ADA) [advocacy website] disputed Kenny's statements, arguing:
Hicks' 2001-06 detention was as a belligerent captured in war, not for a crime. This was and remains lawful under the Geneva Conventions - as was confirmed by the US Supreme Court in the June 2006 Hamdan ruling - and is not disputed by any serious international lawyer. ... [W]hether Hicks' later separate criminal trial, conviction and sentence by US Military Commission was justified in international law or not remains understandably controversial. But it does not change the factual and moral situations that if Hicks was to commit the same acts today as he has freely admitted doing in 2000-01 he would commit an offence against Australian law. Even ignoring Hicks' own admissions and boasts about voluntarily joining terrorist training camps, in moral terms [Hicks should] never have his name cleared of any terrorism links.The statements come as Hicks is preparing a legal challenge [SMH report] to his conviction, seeking to have it overturned.
Hicks was released from prison in December 2007 after being transferred from Guantanamo to Australia [JURIST reports] in May of that year to serve the remainder of his sentence at a maximum security prison near his hometown of Adelaide, South Australia. He was later made subject to a control order which was lifted [JURIST reports] in December 2008.