In a surprise move, the first detainee of Guantanamo Bay to face trial under reworked US law has pleaded guilty to a charge of providing support for terrorism. The military tribunal heard how 31-year-old David Hicks, dubbed the Australian Taliban, was detained fighting for Al Qaeda against US forces in Afghanistan in 2001.
He has been held at the US naval base since then and was the first to be tried under the controversial Military Commissions Act created by the US Congress after an earlier version authorised by President George W. Bush was struck out. It is believed Hicks’ lawyers may have opted for a plea bargain, in return for allowing him to serve out his sentence in Australia.
US officials say they plan to use the legislation to prosecute a further 80 of the remaining 380 detainees at the base in Cuba. But human rights groups say there is no reason why the cases cannot be heard in a regular US court.