David Hicks is appealing against his 2007 US military court conviction.
Hicks held a press conference this morning along with his lawyer Stephen Kenny over the charge of providing material support for terrorism, for which he is appealing.
Hicks is seeking summary dismissal of his conviction because the offence was not a crime at the time that he was detained.
“If the crime does not exist, everything falls away,” Kenny said this morning. “What he pleaded guilty to was not a crime.”
As part of a plea deal to be transferred back to Australia, Hicks, 37 and now living in Terrey Hills, admitted providing material support to terrorists.
He argues that his guilty plea was involuntary, and that he “was not given much of a choice” when pleading to his charge.
The appeal is intended to help him get on with his life, he told the media. “It is important, for myself and for my family and those who have supported me and had faith in me over the years,” he said. “It will help with closure and moving forward.”
Hicks spent five years and four months in Guantanamo Bay, where he was “beaten and tortured”, subjected to “medical experimentation” and given “forced injections which led to negative effects” while spending time in the US military prison. Hicks now suffers post-traumatic stress disorder from his time in prison.
Mr Kenny said the case should have been handed differently at the time. “We’re very pleased that the Howard government is not in charge. He (Hicks) thinks it could’ve been handled differently.”
The Hicks camp believes that a guilty plea was a deal struck by the US government and then Australian prime minister John Howard, who was facing re-election in 2007, because Mr Hicks’s detention was emerging as a campaign issue.
“The Australian government should set high standards of human rights to set an example,” Mr Kenny said.
“He (Hicks) was investigated like no one else has been investigated.”
“The way he was treated was appalling.”
After his release from Guantanamo Bay, Hicks was transfered to an Australian prison where he was released in 2007, he is now married and works as a panel beater on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. – Report by Jack Hislop, photo by Cassandra Sabin.