Guantanamo Bay Conviction of Australian David Hicks Overturned

David Hicks after learning that his Guantanamo Bay conviction was overturned on 18 February 2015. (From  Sky Sydney news.)

David Hicks after learning that his Guantanamo Bay conviction was overturned on 18 February 2015. (Sky Sydney / The Guardian.)

A U.S. military appellate court overturned Australian David Hicks’ 2007 Guantanamo Bay conviction on charges of “material support for terrorism”. On 18 February 2014, the U.S. Court of Military Commission Review ruled that the crime Hicks was convicted of did not exist as a matter of law before 2006. The alleged criminal acts occurred in or before 2001, before “material support for terrorism” was criminalized. A copy of the court’s ruling is below in full text or here:  Hicks v. United States (CMCR 2015).

David Hicks' Defense Team returns to Andrews Air Force Base after his conviction in March 2007 for material support for terrorism. His conviction was overturned on 18 February 2015.  Left to right – Professor Tim McCormack (Australian Expert Witness), Professor George Edwards (U.S. Expert Witness), Major Michael “Dan” Mori (Hicks’ Detailed Military Counsel), (Sarah Finnin, Australian civilian volunteer), Rebecca Snyder (Military Counsel Detailed as Civilian Counsel), Mick Griffith (Australian Civilian Counsel), Sergeant Rios (Team Assistant), Dave McCleod (Australian Civilian Defense Counsel).

Hicks’ Defense Team at Andrews Air Force Base after his conviction for material support for terrorism, which was overturned on 18 February 2015. Left to right – Professor Tim McCormack (Australian Expert Witness), Professor George Edwards (U.S. Expert Witness), Major Michael “Dan” Mori (Hicks’ Detailed Military Counsel), (Sarah Finnin, Australian civilian volunteer), Rebecca Snyder (Military Counsel Detailed as Civilian Counsel), Mick Griffith (Australian Civilian Counsel), Sergeant Rios (Team Assistant), Dave McCleod (Australian Civilian Defense Counsel).

Professor George Edwards and his students from the Indiana University McKinney School of Law provided pro bono legal research for Hicks’ defense team from 2004 until Hicks’ 2007 guilty plea. Professor Edwards was also tendered as an expert witness on the Hicks case, along with Professor Cherif Bassiouni, Professor Tim McCormack, and the late Judge Antonio Cassese. The Military Commission prohibited the experts from testifying live, and in lieu of live testimony, the experts provided affidavits. Professor Edwards’ two affidavits were on the right to a fair trial under international humanitarian law (the law of war / law of armed conflict), international criminal law, and international human rights law.

During Hicks’ 2007 guilty plea, Professor Edwards (from the U.S.) and Professor McCormick (from Australia) were in the Guantanamo Bay courtroom, and are believed to be the first expert witnesses permitted to travel to Guantanamo Bay for a U.S. Military Commission.

Hicks was sentenced to 7 years in prison, with most suspended. He remained at Guantanamo for two months after pleading guilty, and then after 5 ½ years at the remote island prison was returned to Australia, where he spent an additional 7 months in prison before being released.

George Edwards, Tim McCormack & David McCleod on Airplane to GTMO - March 2007

Expert witnesses George Edwards and Tim McCormack, and  Hicks’ civilian attorney David McCleod on a U.S. military aircraft from Andrews Air Force Base Airplane to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for David Hicks’ U.S. Military Commission & guilty plea. (March 2007)

According to Military Commission spokesperson Myles Caggins, the U.S. government will not appeal the appellate court’s ruling.

Hicks’ military lawyer for his initial Guantanamo Bay proceedings, Lt. Col. Michael Dan Mori (ret.) (then Major Mori) was not available for comment. He is pictured above with the Hicks defense team as they arrived back at Andrews Air Force Base after the March 2007 guilty plea. Pictured also in this post are Professor George Edwards (Indiana University McKinney School of Law) and Professor Tim McCormack (University of Melbourne Faculty of Law), on a military aircraft traveling from Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, DC to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for the U.S. Military Commission proceeding during which Hicks pleaded guilty in March 2007. Seated next to them is David McCleod, an Australian lawyer who served as Hicks’ civilian defense counsel.

A copy of the court’s ruling is here:  Hicks v. United States, 13-004 Decision (Feb 18 2015) – US Court of Military Commission Review

A copy of the Indiana University’s Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manual can be found here

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