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Hicks tells father of personal hell
07:57 AEST Sun Aug 29 2004

David Hicks gave his father Terry a detailed account of 10 hours of absolute hell he endured after his capture in Afghanistan in December 2001, it was reported.

Hicks also told his father during their brief emotional reunion in Cuba last week that he was sorry for all the trouble he had caused, The Sunday Telegraph reported.

Terry Hicks said he was angry at Australian government claims that his son was not abused by his US captors, the paper reported.

Mr Hicks was in Florida en route from the US prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after meeting briefly with his son who appeared before a US military commission charged with conspiracy, attempted murder by an unprivileged belligerent and aiding the enemy. Mr Hicks is due to fly home to Adelaide.

He said the worst aspect of the reunion was his son's story of being abused in Afghanistan.

"What he told us of his treatment on his capture is just absolutely shocking," the paper quoted Mr Hicks as saying.

"He was stressed telling us, but he wanted to get it out. It's not fit to print."

Last week, Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer brandished a Pentagon report saying there was no evidence Hicks and fellow Australian detainee Mamdouh Habib were abused by their US captors, the paper said.

Hicks, 29, has been detained by the US since his capture among Taliban forces in Afghanistan in December 2001.

Habib, 48, has been held at the US prison camp as a suspected terrorist since his arrest in Pakistan in 2001. He is yet to be charged.

Hicks tells of '10 hours of hell'
August 29, 2004

DAVID Hicks told his father during their emotional reunion last week that he was sorry for all the trouble he caused.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph yesterday, Terry Hicks also said he was angry at Australian Government claims that his son was not abused by US captors.

His son had given him a detailed account of "10 hours of absolute hell" he endured after his capture in Afghanistan in December, 2001.

Mr Hicks was in Florida yesterday en route from the Cuban prison camp and will fly home to Adelaide today. After not seeing his 29-year-old son for five years, he met him twice last week - before and after Hicks was arraigned before a military tribunal to face three terror-related charges.

"He said, 'I'm sorry for all the stress and everything else I've caused the family,"' Mr Hicks said.

"I said, 'You don't have to apologise. We're with you and so are thousands of other people.'

"This is something that happened - this could happen to anyone. It's just unfortunate it was us."

Mr Hicks said the worst aspect of the reunion was David's story of being abused in Afghanistan.

"What he told us of his treatment on his capture is just absolutely shocking," he said. "He was stressed telling us, but he wanted to get it out. It's not fit to print."

Last week, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer brandished a Pentagon report saying there was no evidence Hicks and fellow Australian detainee Mamdouh Habib were abused by US captors.

But Mr Hicks said his son's account matched those given by three British detainees released earlier this year.Mr Hicks said his son told him he was taken off a prison ship back to Afghanistan. Hooded and manacled, he claimed to have been beaten and abused by two American captors.

This report appears on NEWS.com.au.

Terrorist Suspect Hicks Was Abused in U.S. Custody, Father Says
Aug. 26 (Bloomberg) -- David Hicks, an alleged Australian Taliban fighter, was physically and mentally abused in U.S. custody, his father said.

``He was abused in various ways,'' Terry Hicks told reporters in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba at a news conference broadcast on Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio. ``He was physically abused before he came here and the mental side was here -- he is having difficulty coping with what he has been through.''

Hicks, 29, appeared at a military tribunal in Guantanamo Bay yesterday. He pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit war crimes, attempted murder by ``an unprivileged belligerent,'' and aiding the enemy, Terry Hicks said. ``The trial will take place in January,'' said his father, who saw his son for 15 minutes before the tribunal convened.

Hicks was captured in Afghanistan in December 2001 as the Taliban militia was defeated in Afghanistan by U.S. forces. The U.S. Defense Department says he attended al-Qaeda terrorist camps in Afghanistan and took an advanced course in surveillance. He used this knowledge to scout the U.S. and British embassies in Kabul, Afghanistan, according to the Pentagon indictment.

Hicks returned to Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon to join al-Qaeda in the fight against the U.S. and its allies there, the Pentagon said.

The U.S. also alleges Hicks fought for the Kosovo Liberation Army, which took up arms in the name of ethnic Albanian Muslims in the Serbian province of Kosovo. Hicks later converted to Islam and allegedly fought for the Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba fighting in Jammu and Kashmir against Indian forces.

First Meeting

It was the first time Hicks had met his father and stepmother Bev in almost four years, Terry said.

``It was very emotional,'' Terry said. ``We had brought him letters and photos.''

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said the death penalty wouldn't apply to Hicks if he is found guilty. The Australian government would negotiate with the U.S. for Hicks to serve any sentence in Australia and he should be released if he is found not guilty, Howard told ABC radio yesterday.

``If he's found not guilty we will be saying that he should be let go,'' Howard said.

Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni national, faced a military tribunal on Tuesday, the first U.S. military commission in more than 50 years. Hamdan is accused of being a driver for al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and for being involved in a conspiracy to attack civilians and commit murder.

The U.S. has named 15 Guantanamo Bay prisoners as being eligible to face military commissions. The U.S. is holding about 600 people from 40 countries at its naval base in Cuba. Many suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban were captured during the U.S.-led war on terrorism.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gemma Daley in Canberra at gdaley@bloomberg.net

Australian Al-Qaeda Suspect Hicks Faces U.S. Tribunal (Update1)
Aug. 24 (Bloomberg) -- David Hicks, an Australian charged with training with al-Qaeda, becomes one of the first Guantanamo Bay detainees to face a U.S. military tribunal when he appears before a panel tomorrow, his military lawyer said.

``David is the first to face this commission hearing,'' Marine Corps Major Michael Mori said in an interview from Quantico, Virginia. ``It doesn't have a judge and a jury, but I hope it sets out a timeframe for the process and trial.''

Hicks, a 29-year-old father-of-two, was charged in June with conspiracy to commit war crimes, attempted murder by ``an unprivileged belligerent'' and aiding the enemy, the U.S. Defense Department said at the time.

He is one of 15 Guantanamo Bay prisoners named by the U.S. as being eligible to face military commissions. The U.S. is holding about 600 people from 40 countries at its naval base in Cuba. Many suspected members of al-Qaeda and the Taliban were captured since 2001 when the U.S. began the war against terrorism in Afghanistan.

``Hicks is able to be fully represented, we recognize there is the capacity to be able to cross examine witnesses and we recognize there is a presumption of innocence,'' Australian Attorney General Philip Ruddock told reporters in Canberra. ``We recognize in that process, if there is a conviction, there is the opportunity for appeal.''

Human rights lawyers have demanded Guantanamo Bay detainees be classified as prisoners of war, which would allow them protection under the Geneva Conventions. The U.S. says they are unlawful combatants who may be tried by military tribunals.

Preliminary Hearings

The tribunals will consist of six officers, John Altenburg, the official for the commissions, said last week, according to the U.S. Defense Department. The cases will involve preliminary hearings and no date has been set for actual trials to begin, Altenburg said.

The U.S. alleges Hicks attended al-Qaeda terrorist camps in Afghanistan and took a course in surveillance. He used this knowledge to scout the U.S. and British embassies in the Afghan capital, Kabul, according to the Pentagon.

Hicks returned to Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon to join al-Qaeda in the fight against the U.S. and its allies there, the Pentagon said. He was captured in Afghanistan in 2001.

Trial Preparations

Mori said the hearing may set a timeframe to prepare for trial ``to fight for David's acquittal.''

``The most important thing is that we have sufficient time to conduct a thorough investigation and we get all the evidence,'' Mori said. ``The U.S. has had two-and-a-half years to question everyone down there at Guantanamo, when do we get our turn?''

David's father Terry said he will visit the U.S. for the hearing. Terry has spoken to his son by telephone twice since he was captured.

``It's going to be a very emotional thing to see him,'' Terry said in a telephone interview from Adelaide. ``They'd have had him eating the best at this stage so he looks good for the hearing.''

Mamdouh Habib, another Australian national held at Guantanamo, may be one of the other nine detainees named to face a tribunal, said Steve Ingram, a spokesman for Ruddock.

Habib, a 38-year-old Egyptian-born resident of Sydney, was found on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in October 2001. He hasn't been charged yet, Ingram said.

Australia has assurances from the U.S. that Hicks will have a fair trial, Prime Minister John Howard said in June. Howard said Hicks may serve any sentence in Australia.

Law Council

Melbourne barrister Lex Lasry was chosen by the Law Council of Australia to attend the hearing for Hicks as an observer.

``A lot of people have criticized the system, so I am going as an observer to study the proceedings and the documents and report back to the law council on that,'' Lasry said. ``I will be determining whether there is any basis for the criticism.''

Stephen Kenny, Hicks's Australian lawyer, said he has concerns about the commission and a following trial.

``The rules of the commission will not offer the same standard of proof that would be acceptable in Australia,'' he told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. ``That is our major concern at the moment.''

Australian media has claimed U.S. officials Hicks and Habib have been abused, mistreated and refused medical attention at Guantanamo Bay. Three British ex-inmates made the most recent claims in a 115-page statement released this month.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Gemma Daley in Canberra at gdaley@bloomberg.net

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