Hicks wants to get on with his life

Megan Neil, AAP

David Hicks speaks at a press conference in Sydney on Thursday. AAP Image/Nikki Short

David Hicks speaks at a press conference in Sydney on Thursday. AAP Image/Nikki Short

David Hicks says he wants to get on with his life after being legally cleared of terrorism.

Mr Hicks was half asleep when his lawyer phoned him at 4am on Thursday to tell him a US military appeals court had vacated his guilty plea to providing material support to terrorism.

‘We’ve been waiting for this decision not just at the moment but for years,’ Mr Hicks said afterwards.

‘It’s a relief because it’s over.

‘I’m looking forward to getting on with my life now that my name has been cleared.’

The US Court of Military Commission Review’s decision ends the legal battle after Mr Hicks was captured in Afghanistan in December 2001.

But it doesn’t end the debate over Mr Hicks’s conduct.

‘David went to Afghanistan, yes,’ his lawyer Stephen Kenny said.

‘David was doing military training over there, yes.

‘He was not doing it for the Australian army or the Australian government but it was not a crime.’

Mr Hicks says he’s not seeking compensation at this point and doesn’t expect an apology from the Australian government.

However, he does think they should cover his medical expenses for injuries linked to his five-and-a-half years of detention in Guantanamo Bay.

‘The Australian government, they were aware of the conditions I was being held in at the time,’ he said.

‘I think they should at least pay my medical expenses, that’s not much to ask for I don’t think.’

Mr Hicks says he needs an operation on his left knee, right elbow, has back problems and a number of his teeth have been pulled because he couldn’t brush them in the US military detention centre in Cuba.

‘It’s becoming a very expensive exercise to fix myself from the years of torture,’ he said.

His father Terry Hicks believe the least the Australian government can do is apologise.

Greens leader Christine Milne said an apology would be about acknowledging the injustice Mr Hicks suffered.

‘David Hicks was subjected to a bogus conviction, torture and wrongful imprisonment. An apology should be immediate,’ Senator Milne said.

Attorney-General George Brandis said the US commission review was about the validity of the US law under which Mr Hicks was convicted, not about whether he did what he was accused of.

Former prime minister John Howard said Mr Hicks is not owed an apology by any Australian government.

‘Nothing alters the fact that by his own admission, Hicks trained with al-Qaeda, met Osama bin Laden on several occasions – describing him as a brother,’ he said.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he was not in the business of apologising for the actions Australian governments take to protect the country.


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