US charges Australian David Hicks

Monday, March 26, 2007

David Hicks' cell at Guantanamo Bay (reading room in inset).

David Hicks of Australia became the first to be charged under the new Military Commissions Act as he appeared before a military judge at Guantanamo Bay to face charges of providing material support to a terrorist organization. The 31-year-old Australian's lawyers have been considering a plea bargain, in hopes he can be handed to Australian custody. It is alleged that Hicks, a Muslim convert, attended al-Qaeda training camps and fought with the Taliban. He was captured in 2001 in Afghanistan where, according to his father, he was on a religious pilgrimage.

Hicks sought to expand his defense team, but two of his lawyers were disqualified by the military judge. One of them, Joshua Dratel, refused to sign a document setting out the rules for the tribunal. Hicks said he was "shocked" to lose another lawyer.