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DPP Drops Confiscation Proceedings Against David Hicks

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) has abandoned proceedings against David Hicks which sought to confiscate his earnings from the sale of his book, Guantanamo: My Journey.

The CDPP cast doubt on the admissions made by Hicks before the United States Military Commission and his use of an “Alford plea” that isn’t recognised in Australia.

The CDPP said: “This Office was not in a position to discharge the onus placed upon it to satisfy the Court that the admissions should be relied upon and decided that these proceedings should not continue.”

Media release from the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

Statement in the Matter of David Hicks

On 19 July 2011, following an investigation and referral by the Australian Federal Police the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions commenced proceedings against Mr David Hicks, pursuant to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Cth).

The proceedings were commenced by way of Summons in the Supreme Court of NSW. The Summons sought orders relating to publication of the book Guantanamo: My Journey, including a restraining order, pursuant to section 20 of the Proceeds of Crime Act, and a literary proceeds order, pursuant to section 152.

On 23 July 2012, the Director made a decision to discontinue the proceedings. The matter was discontinued in Court on 24 July 2012. [Read more…]


Hicks To Serve 9 Months In Australian Jail; Released After Election

David Hicks has been sentenced to seven years prison in addition to the five years he has already spent at Guantanamo Bay, but six years and three months have been suspended by the US military tribunal.

Hicks must be returned to Australia by May 29. He will likely serve out his sentence at Yatala Prison in Adelaide. He is gagged from speaking to the media for twelve months and from selling his story to the media. As part of the plea bargain, Hicks withdrew allegations of abuse by US military forces.

The sentence handed down today was reportedly agreed upon earlier this week. It follows a plea of guilty by Hicks to charges of supporting terrorism. Other charges were withdrawn. Hicks is the first person to be convicted by the Guantanamo military tribunals.

Politically, the decision represents a victory for the Prime Minister, John Howard. As concern about the delay in bringing Hicks to trial grew last year, Howard made representations to President George W Bush and expressed his “anger”. Backbench disquiet about the issue will now be allayed. Hicks’s return to Australia will similarly mute the criticisms of other groups. His 9-month incarceration will allow for his release in the new year and remove him from the election campaign prior to Christmas. The guilty plea, whilst seen by some as induced by captivity at Guantanamo Bay, has effectively killed off David Hicks as an election issue.

The Hicks deal has been attacked by the Greens leader, Senator Bob Brown:

“The 12 month gag on David Hicks when he returns to Australia is to save the Howard government from embarrassing truths in the run to this year’s election. Most people will be relieved he is coming home and that the ordeal for his family is nearing its end. The day David Hicks walks out of jail approaches and his father, mother and other family members now have a date to look forward to. But the shame of Prime Minister Howard’s failure to uphold Australian standards will go down in history.”

Senator Brown said he did not believe Hicks’ statement, including his reversal claim that he was not abused in Guantanamo Bay. “This is a plea bargain under coercion. If Hicks claimed abuse or refused the press gag he was staying in Gitmo. So he has agreed to this fabricated statement,” Senator Brown said. “This military commission farce shames Australia. The Howard government has been contemptuous of international and domestic law. But the truth will out,” Senator Brown said.


U.S. Ambassador Hasn’t Read ANZUS Treaty

The United States Ambassador to Australia, Robert McCallum, has admitted he has not read the ANZUS Treaty.

Robert McCallumIn a wide-ranging address to the National Press Club in Canberra, McCallum was asked about Article 4 of the treaty which states that “each Party recognizes that an armed attack in the Pacific Area on any of the Parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes.”

Asked what the US constitutional process would be to invoke the ANZUS Treaty, particularly if there were a conflict between the President and the Congress, McCallum reminded his audience that he was a lawyer with 30 years experience and said: [Read more…]


Howard Attacks Obama and US Democrats

Less than twenty-four hours after Barack Obama announced his candidacy for the 2008 United States presidential election, the Prime Minister, John Howard, has attacked the Illinois senator over his policy of withdrawal from Iraq.

Responding to a question about Obama’s policy of withdrawing US troops by March 2008, Howard said: “If I was running Al-Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008, and pray, as many times as possible, for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats.”

The attack is unusual because it is considered undiplomatic for a head of government of one nation to intervene in the electoral process of another. [Read more…]