Guantanamo Bay Detainee David Hicks Back Home in Australia
20 May 2007
Convicted Australian terrorism supporter David Hicks is back home and behind bars after a flight from the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Hicks was the first detainee convicted of supporting extremism by the U.S. military court. From Sydney, Phil Mercer reports.
After more than five years as an inmate at Guantanamo Bay, David Hicks is back in Australia.
He was flown from Cuba to the southern city of Adelaide on a jet chartered by the Australian government.
The former kangaroo hunter was transferred to the high-security Yatala Prison, where he'll be kept in solitary confinement.
Hicks, who is 31 years old, was captured in Afghanistan in late 2001 and was sentenced in March to seven years in jail for terrorism offenses.
Under a deal with U.S. prosecutors, most of his sentence - apart from nine months - was suspended.
Hicks' lawyer David Mcleod says his client wants to start rebuilding his life.
"All he wants to do now is to become a regular prisoner, serve his time and proposes to make every use that he can of the rehabilitation processes here," Mcleod says. "He wants to get on with his education."
At his military trial at Guantanamo Bay, David Hicks pleaded guilty to providing material support to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.
The Australian, a convert to Islam, was the first person convicted by a U.S. war crimes tribunal since World War Two and the first of hundreds of foreign captives held at Guantanamo Bay to face a military trial.
Hicks was greeted outside the Adelaide jail Sunday by a small group of protesters, who believe he has been treated unfairly.
The Australian government has cautioned that the former Guantanamo Bay inmate should not be treated as some kind of hero.
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said it was important to remember that Hicks was a "criminal and someone who has been involved in several terrorist organizations, in particular, al Qaeda."
David Hicks is scheduled to be released at the end of December 2007.
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