Skip to main content /WORLD /WORLD

Writ seeks access to Australian al Qaeda

Australian David Hicks converted to Islam when fighting in Bosnia  

ADELAIDE, Australia -- Lawyers acting on behalf of Australian al Qaeda fighter David Hicks, who is being held by the U.S. military in a prison camp in Cuba, have issued a writ demanding access to their client.

The lawyers, who are also acting for British detainees Shafiq Rasul and Asif Iqbal, say they have launched the action in the Federal Court in Washington and have named President George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as respondents.

The writ claims the three detainees are entitled to the same legal rights as American Taliban John Walker Lindh, who is currently being tried in the U.S.

The lawyers said they were seeking a process to determine the legality of their clients' detention.

Hicks' father told Australian media Wednesday he just wanted his son to be brought back to Australia so he could receive "a fair go". Asia
More news from our
Asia edition


"It is for this reason I have instructed lawyers to issue the petition on his behalf," the Associated Press reported Terry Hicks as saying.

"If David has done something wrong, then he should be brought home and tried by an Australian court."

Hicks said his family had written 25 letters to their son in the past two weeks but they were not sure if any had been delivered to him in the Guantanamo Bay complex.

He said so far the only contact that he had had with his son had been a letter delivered by the Red Cross last month.

The lawyers said the holding of Hicks and the others "incommunicado" for an indeterminate period was a breach of the U.S. Constitution.

Hicks, 26, was captured by Northern Alliance forces in December last year and was handed over to the U.S. military before being one of the first detainees transferred to Cuba.

Senior member

Described as a "soldier of fortune", Hicks converted to Islam while fighting for the Kosovo Liberation Army in Bosnia.

The Australian government says it is comfortable with the U.S. holding and questioning Hicks, and is confident he will be handed over to Australia for trial should he be found to have charges to answer.

Australian and U.S. security officers have already interrogated Hicks, who is believed to have been a relatively senior member of suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.

The Australian government said Hicks moved to Pakistan in November 1999 and trained with the Lashkar-e-Taiba, one of dozens of Islamic groups fighting to wrest control of Kashmir from India.

He then moved to Afghanistan last year and trained with bin Laden's network, the Australian government says.




Back to the top