The Australian government should apologise to David Hicks after his terrorism conviction was overturned by a US military court at Guantanamo Bay, his father says.
Attorney-General George Brandis in particular should feel ashamed for calling his son a terrorist.
‘I just hope the man feels very embarrassed about what he said,’ Terry Hicks told ABC radio on Thursday.
‘It’s now in black and white.’
Hicks had pleaded guilty in March 2007 to providing material support to terrorism.
This was part of a plea bargain which allowed most of his seven-year sentence to be suspended and Hicks to return to Australia.
Then in 2014, a US appeal court ruled that providing material support to terrorism wasn’t a legally viable war crime under the jurisdiction of the Guantanamo court in Cuba.
Prosecutors had argued his conviction should stand because he had agreed not to appeal as part of the plea deal.
But the argument was rejected in an unanimous decision by the US Court of Military Commission Review.
The legal saga has been running for almost 10 years.
But Hicks’ story began about 15 years ago when he left Australia to travel to Pakistan and then on to Afghanistan, where he joined an al-Qaeda training camp.
Later he was picked up by the US and taken to the US navy base and military prison at Guantanamo Bay, where suspected terrorists were being held and tortured.
Last year, Hicks heckled Senator Brandis at a human rights award ceremony in Sydney.
‘Hey, my name is David Hicks! I was tortured for five-and-a-half years in Guantanamo Bay in the full knowledge of your party! What do you have to say?’
His lawyer Stephen Kenny said the court decision means Hicks was now an innocent man with no convictions.
‘It will be the end of people calling him a terrorist,’ he said.
‘Frankly, he should never have been in Guantanamo Bay.’
Terry Hicks says he feels a great sense of relief.
‘David can now get on with his life and we can get on with ours,’ he said.
The US government hasn’t said whether or not it will attempt an appeal, but Mr Kenny believes it won’t.
Hicks could potentially seek compensation from the Australian government but his legal team would have to present evidence showing it had played a role in his five-year detention at the US navy base at Guantanamo Bay.
‘At this stage, it’s pretty much the end of it for David,’ he said.
Terry Hicks said the prospect of seeking compensation was unlikely.
‘I think at the moment we just need an apology,’ he said.
But he’s not confident it’ll be forthcoming.
‘When you’ve got a government saying David Hicks is a terrorist, guilty of this and guilty of that, and then he’s found not guilty, it leaves a few red faces,’ Terry Hick said.
‘So I think they’re going to find it very hard to apologise.’
Mr Kenny said Hicks was getting his life back on track, living and working in Sydney.
His father said he still suffers from a number of medical issues.