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30 Mar 2007 00:00
A United States military tribunal at Guantànamo formally convicted Australian David Hicks on Friday on a charge of providing material support for terrorism.
The tribunal’s judge accepted Hicks’s guilty plea as part of an agreement that limits his sentence to seven years, in addition to the five years he has already been detained at the Guantànamo prison—mostly without being charged. The deal allows for at least part of that sentence to be suspended.
The 31-year-old former farmhand is the first person to be convicted in revised military tribunals created by the US Congress after the Supreme Court struck down an earlier version that President George Bush authorised to try foreign captives on terrorism charges.
Hicks acknowledged that he trained with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, fought with its forces against US allies in Afghanistan in late 2001 for two hours, then sold his gun to raise cab fare and tried to flee to Pakistan.
He denied having any advance knowledge of the September 11 attacks.
Hicks has previously claimed he was abused by the US military but said in his plea agreement that he has never been illegally treated while in US custody.
Rights groups and foreign governments have long condemned the prison at the US Guantànamo naval base on the eastern tip of Cuba for what they say is abuse of prisoners’ rights.
But Washington has argued the camp is necessary to hold detainees in the war on terrorism it declared after the September 11 attacks more than five years ago.
The US will send Hicks to Australia to serve his sentence, which is expected to be announced during the weekend.
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