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ALA backs Hicks bid for pardon

ALA backs Hicks bid for pardon

The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) has spoken out in support of any moves to quash David Hicks' conviction for terrorism.Speaking with Lawyers Weekly, ALA director Greg Barns said he had some…

The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) has spoken out in support of any moves to quash David Hicks' conviction for terrorism.

Speaking with Lawyers Weekly, ALA director Greg Barns said he had some "serious reservations" about the circumstances surrounding Hicks' conviction by a US Military Court, and that the ALA would support any move Hicks made to have his conviction overturned.

"The circumstances under which David Hicks was convicted was patently unfair," Barns said. "The problem was, the Australian government [at the time] judged him to be guilty from the outset, and they were in cahoots with the American government [the former Bush administration] in denying him legal justice."

Media reports over the weekend suggested Hicks had sought the counsel of Ben Saul, the co-director of the Sydney Centre for International Law, in a bid to have his conviction overturned. When contacted by Lawyers Weekly, Saul said he was not authorised to make any comment with regard to legal action Hicks may or may not pursue.

Hicks pleaded guilty to a charge of "providing material support for terrorism" in a pre-trial agreement in March 2007. He was due to be tried under a US Military Commission that was created in the wake of the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks. Hicks spent five years in Guantanamo Bay before his settlement, and seven months in an Adelaide prison on his return to Australia in 2007.

In the lead-up to his successful presidential campaign, Barack Obama described the military commissions as an "enormous failure", and within one week of taking office suspended the commissions and pledged to close Guantanamo Bay within one year.

The Obama administration has since resumed military commission trials and Guantanamo Bay is still open.

On 8 July, a Sudanese national held at Guantanamo Bay for the last eight years pleaded guilty to a military commission hearing to the charges of providing military support for terrorism and conspiracy to provide material support for terrorism. His conviction, the fourth under the military commission system, was the first under the Obama administration.

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