In a world first a Murdoch paper has published a story that throws doubt over the intentions and integrity of the former PM, John Howard. The Adelaide Advertiser reports today that former Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks says US documents have been released that prove the Howard government interfered in his terrorism case.
The article reveals that members of the Howard Government believed Hicks was not guilty but accepted there was pressure to have something ‘pinned’ on him. Hicks folded to that pressure.
Hicks, who pleaded guilty to a terrorism-related charge in the US in 2007, says newly released US State Department documents show that members of the Howard government acknowledged he was not guilty of any crime and tried to think of ways to “pin him with something”.
He says the 50 to 60 pages of documents record “private conversations” between Howard government MPs and US State Department officials.
The documents were provided this week to American journalist Jason Leopold by State Department employees.
“They’re private conversations … between Australian politicians, the Liberal Party and the US State Department officials, people in the Pentagon and whoever was involved in that process in Guantanamo Bay, and it discusses my treatment and it discusses about the need to pressure me to say ‘guilty’,” Mr Hicks told ABC Radio.
Hicks was detained in Afghanistan in 2001, handed over to US authorities and detained for five years at Guantanamo Bay.
In March 2007, he pleaded guilty to providing material support for terrorism and was sent to Adelaide’s Yatala Prison to serve the remainder of a seven-year sentence, before being released in December of that year.
Today, Mr Hicks said he ‘folded’ to pressure to plead guilty and that the new US State Department documents showed Howard government officials acknowledged he had not committed a crime.
“There’s also acknowledgments from our Government, the Australian Government, I should be more specific and say the Howard government, acknowledgments from them and even from the US, that I’d never breached any law, I hadn’t committed a crime,” he said.
“And there’s conversations between Australian politicians and US politicians of how they can handle that: `What can we do, how can we pin him with something?’.”
Mr Hicks said that was when “they invented the charge ‘material support for terrorism’,” which, he said, was not a valid crime under any legal system.
Mr Hicks says he wants the Australian Government to investigate his case, but adds he does not want compensation.
“No, what I would really like is for the Government to acknowledge that what was done to me was wrong, that my conviction in an illegal military commission is null and void and the plea agreement goes along with that. That’s all I’m asking for,” he said.
Hicks said the content of the US State Department documents would be released by Leopold in about a month’s time.
Who would have thought that John Howard tell lies. Just look at his honest face.