Over Easy: David Hicks, an Innocent Man tortured at Gitmo
The following is Crane-Station’s Over Easy post, which due to technical problems she could not get in to publish at the FDL site.
David Hicks is an innocent man from Australia who was tortured physically and psychologically at Guantanamo for 5 ½ years. He obtained his release by pleading guilty in a Guantanamo military court to providing material support for terrorism, a crime enacted by Congress in 2006, approximately five years after he was turned over to U.S. authorities in late 2001. His conviction was overturned by the US Court of Military Commission Review because it violated the Ex Post Facto Clause in Article 1, Section 9 of the United States Constitution. The Ex Post Facto Clause prohibits prosecuting someone for conduct committed before it was criminalized by a statute. Criminal statutes only apply prospectively, not retroactively.
Hicks traveled to Pakistan in 1999 where he joined an Al Qaeda training camp. The BBC picks up the story, source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-31528159
“[He] joined the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group the following year and took part in an attack on Indian forces, according to court documents. He then went to Afghanistan where he was captured by the Northern Alliance and handed to the US in late 2001. His guilty plea was part of a plea bargain which allowed him to return home to Australia and serve only nine months of a seven-year sentence. Prosecutors had argued his conviction should have stood as he agreed not to appeal as part of the plea bargain.”
But you can’t plead guilty to a crime that was not a crime when you engaged in conduct that was subsequently criminalized.”
Brandon Neely is a former guard at Guantanamo who met David Hicks when he arrived at the base. The Sydney Morning Herald,
“I saw David Hicks on January 11, 2002, and I escorted him off the bus at Camp X-Ray through in-processing, then into his cell on Bravo block.”Mr Neely had arrived only a few days before the first detainees so he could get acquainted with the centre.”
Mr Neely said he would never forget his first impression of the cage structures he thought looked like “dog kennels”.
He has since left his position as a guard and has spent the past few years campaigning to have Guantanamo Bay closed, while also reaching out to former detainees he met there.
“Honestly, I am not surprised but very ashamed it [Guantanamo Bay] is still open. I hate knowing I took part in something so horrible.”
Mr Neely was happy at the news that Mr Hicks was to be cleared on the charge of supporting terrorism. “They told me David was a trained killer, would kill me in a heart beat. Now, they are telling the world he is innocent,” he said.
“For 13 years, they lied about David to the world and everyone that stepped foot on Guantanamo. Glad to see them have to admit they where wrong. “I truly hope that David may be able to have some sort of closure and start his healing process. I just want David to be happy.”