Australian Foreign Affairs Minister denies knowledge of Guantanamo abuse allegations

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

The Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, has denied that his department had notification of sexual abuse allegations made by the Australian Guantanamo Bay detainee, David Hicks in 2003/2004.

"I'd like to see the evidence for this, and we would ask those who make the claims to present us with the evidence, let us look at the evidence, because obviously we are opposed to rape," he said after the Four Corners current affairs TV program presented an exposé relating to the alleged reasons for the detention of David Hicks at Guantanamo Bay. The program included an interview with David Hicks' father Terry Hicks who said that David had told him that the Americans gave him injections and then penetrated him anally with various objects.

Mr Downer's claims were contradicted by Hicks' military lawyer, Major Michael Mori who said that an Australian official was present during an interview that was part of the US investigation in 2004 and David Hicks had detailed the issues of being assaulted during that interview. Mr Downer declined to answer these claims when approached by the ABC Radio program The World Today but a department official confirmed the Government's position that it was not aware of Mr Hicks' torture claims.

The Labor Party opposition Foreign Affairs Spokesman, Kevin Rudd said in an interview on Lateline that Mr Downer "has just washed his hands of these matters" and that he had "adopted a posture of leave it to the Americans and trust the Americans. But when it comes to Guantanamo Bay, with due respect to our friends in Washington, I don't think that's good enough.". Mr Rudd is calling for an independent third party such as the International Red Cross to investigate the claims.


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