Australian Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks has unexpectedly pleaded guilty to a charge of providing “material support” for terrorism. A Muslim convert, captured in Afghanistan, Hicks has spent five years in detention. He is the first Guantanamo prisoner to face a military tribunal created under new US rules.
Other charges against the 31-year-old, such as attempted murder, have been dropped. Hicks is now set to be allowed to serve his sentence in Australia, as the country’s Prime Minister John Howard explained. “Australia and the United States have an arrangement in place under which Mr Hicks can apply to serve the remainder of any sentence imposed, in Australia, subject to the agreement of all parties,” he told parliament in Canberra.
Amid growing public backing for Hicks in Australia, many claim his guilty plea was entered merely to speed up his return home and escape a flawed system of US military justice.