Abbott Government could 'pay millions' to David Hicks
CONVICTED enemy-of-the-state and former Guantanamo Bay prisoner David Hicks may have been indirectly cleared by the Pentagon, after it dismissed charges against a man convicted of the same crimes.
There is now a risk the Australian Government could be forced to pay Hicks "many millions of dollars" in compensation, according to Civil Liberties Australia.
Hicks landed in the hands of the United States military after being captured in Afghanistan following the September 11 terrorist attacks.
He was kept imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay and allegedly tortured until February 2007 when he was released back to Australia after agreeing to plead guilty to "providiing material support for terrorism".
Last week, another inmate named Noor Uthman Muhammed was cleared last week, despite pleading guilty for the same crime in 2011.
Muhammed was returned to Sudan in late 2013.
The US Department of Defence found "it was legal error to try to offense of providing material support for terrorism".
Civil Liberties Australia chief Bill Rowlings said the decision put the Federal Government at risk of a multi-million dollar law suit.
"The lie that he was a terrorist who had committed a crime was promoted by the Howard government, notably Prime MInister John Howard and Attorney-General Philip Ruddock," Mr Rowlings said.
"But all their claims have now been officially admitted to be false and wrong in law."
Mr Rowlings said by jailing Hicks, the Australian Government had acted illegally.
"Hicks has every right to sue the current Australian Government for false imprisonment, and for defamation for all the lies told about him being a terrorist and a criminal," he said.
Hicks confronted former PM John Howard on ABC panel show Q&A in 2010 to ask whether his treatment was humane and his trial fair.
Mr Howard defended his government's actions in relation to Hicks.
"I defend what my government did in relation to Iraq, in relation to the military commissions," Mr Howard said.
"We put a lot of pressure on the Americans to accelerate the charges being brought against David Hicks.
"I remind people watching that David Hicks did plead guilty to a series of offences and they of course involved him, in full knowledge of what had happened on September 11, attempting to return to Afghanistan and rejoin the people with whom he had trained."
Mr Hicks also confronted Attorney-General George Brandis at an arts award last year, as Mr Brandis left the building.
Mr Brandis' office has been contacted for comment.