[JURIST] A US military commission [JURIST news archive] at Guantanamo Bay recommended sentencing Australian detainee David Hicks [JURIST news archive] to seven years in prison late Friday but all but nine months of that were effectively suspended by a military judge under the terms of a plea agreement kept secret from the panel of military officers during its deliberations. Hicks is expected to be returned to Australia [JURIST report] to serve his prison term within two months. He has already spent more than five years in US custody since being captured in Afghanistan. Under the plea agreement, Hicks was required to state that he “has never been illegally treated” while being held as an enemy combatant by the United States and that his detention was lawful pursuant to the laws of armed conflict. Hicks is also prohibited from having contact with the media for a period of one year, is to not take any legal action against the United States for his treatment during his 5 year detention, and is required to turn over any profits from an eventual sale of his story to the Australian government.
Vincent Warren, Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights [official website], criticized the plea [statement] as an “[attempt] to silence criticism and keep the facts of their torture and abuse of detainees from the public.” Hicks is the first Guantanamo detainee to be tried [JURIST report] under the new Military Commissions Act [text, PDF]. Hicks’ conviction is also the first by the tribunal. The New York Times has more. AP has additional coverage. The Sydney Morning Herald has local coverage.