David Hicks, one of two Australians detained at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, was born in 1975 in Adelaide, South Australia. Hicks’ family believes that he was captured by Northern Alliance forces in Afghanistan, some time in early December 2001, and handed over to U.S. troops shortly thereafter, as an alleged member of a Taliban militia group. He was held at Guantánamo beginning in January 2002.
In February 2002, Hicks’ attorneys filed a petition for habeas corpus on behalf of Hicks and two other named Guantánamo detainees, Shafiq Rasul and Asif Iqbal, both Britons who were released from Guantánamo to return home in March 2004. That case, Rasul v. Bush, was decided by the Supreme Court in a decision handed down on June 28, 2004.
On June 10, 2004, formal charges were issued against Hicks, with counts of conspiracy to commit war crimes, including terrorism; attempted murder by an unprivileged belligerent; and aiding the enemy. The charge sheet alleges that Hicks underwent military training at al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan during 2001; that he returned to Afghanistan from a visit in Pakistan after September 11 to link up with “his al Qaida associates”; and that he then joined up with forces engaged in combat against the U.S.-led Coalition. The charges do not allege that Hicks actually killed or injured any individual. Marine Corps Major Michael Mori has been assigned as military defense counsel for Hicks. On June 28, 2004, the Department of Defense formally referred the charges against Hicks to a military commission, and designated the members of the panel. A military commission preliminary hearing began the week of August 23, 2004.
In April 2007, Hicks became the first person to be sentenced by military commission when he pled guilty to one count of providing material support for terrorism and was subsequently given a seven-year sentence. This sentence was reduced to nine months to account for the years during which he had already been detained, and he spent the final seven months of his sentence in detention in his native Australia. He was released on December 29, 2007. A one-year gag rule included in his plea agreement specified that he would not be allowed to discuss his treatment or capture. Following his release, the Australian police imposed a year-long control order, which until December 2008 prohibited Hicks from leaving his home between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. or leaving his home state without express police permission. Under the control order, Hicks was also barred from having more than one e-mail account, one cell phone, and one land line, and was required to report to the police twice a week.
Hicks was one of three Guantánamo detainees for whom attorneys had filed a petition for habeas corpus in February 2002. (The other two detainees, Shafiq Rasul and Asif Iqbal, both Britons, were subsequently released from Guantánamo to return home in March 2004.) This case, Rasul v. Bush, was later consolidated with two other cases respecting Australian and Kuwaiti detainees held at Guantánamo. On June 28, 2004, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in these cases, holding that U.S. courts could hear the detainees’ challenges to their imprisonment. This ruling overturned an appeals court’s ruling that Guantánamo Bay was outside the sovereign territory of the U.S. and that therefore foreign nationals could not bring claims challenging their detention. As of November 2004, approximately 60 detainees at Guantanamo have challenged their imprisonment in the district courts.
Hicks has appealed his conviction in military commission. Since the United States overturned the conviction for support for terrorism charges against Osama bin Laden’s driver, Salim Hamdan, Hicks argues that the charges against him were retrospective and therefore illegal. He also argues that his guilty plea was made under duress.
- Hicks Charge Sheet
- Case Motions
- Appointing Authority Decision on Challenges for
Cause (October 19, 2004) – PDF 1.1MB