Ex-de facto visits Hicks in prison

May 27, 2007 - 8:19PM
The ex-de facto wife of convicted terrorism supporter David Hicks visited him for the first time since he was returned to Australia.

Jodie Sparrow described Hicks as fine and normal after meeting him at Adelaide's maximum security Yatala prison, the Nine Network reported.

Ms Sparrow said Hicks became emotional when she told him their two children wanted to see their father.

"He's fine and he's pretty normal," she said.

Ms Sparrow said she had passed on a message from their children Bonnie and Terry.

"They said they love him and miss him and look forward to seeing him."

Asked how Hicks reacted, she said: "I think he was really excited and emotional, knowing that his kids are going to be there to support him."

Hicks, 31, is serving a nine-month sentence at Yatala after being transferred from the US military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he was held for more than five years as an enemy combatant.

He pleaded guilty to providing material support for terrorism at a US military commission hearing last month.

In interviews recorded before the visit, Hicks' children said that while they resented their father for abandoning them about ten years earlier, they were prepared to give him another chance.

His daughter Bonnie, 13, said she opposed what Hicks had done.

"He fought against us and decided to go with the Taliban people," she told the Nine Network.

But she did not consider him a terrorist.

Bonnie said she could let her father, whom she calls David, into her life again.

"If I get to know him and trust him more, then maybe."

Asked what that would take, she said: "Prove to me and my brother that he cares about us."

Hicks' 12-year-old son Terry had been suspended from school after fighting over taunts about his father, the Nine Network reported.

"I got told that he went and trained with the terrorists," said Terry, who was too young to remember the last time he saw his father.

The boy said he felt bad and disappointed about Hicks' activities but still loved him.

The 60 Minutes story showed Hicks had written letters to his ex-de facto wife and children from Guantanamo Bay.

Hicks and Ms Sparrow started their relationship when he was 17 and she was 20.

Ms Sparrow said she had told the children Hicks was different from his public image of being a suspected terrorist.

"I can't see him being like that, not at all," she said of Hicks' time in Afghanistan, where he was captured fighting with the Taliban.

"My belief is that he's been brainwashed. That's what I think," she said before the visit.

"I think that he's gone to them because he's craving for his family environment.

"It's weird."

Ms Sparrow welcomed Hicks' release from Guantanamo Bay.

"I'm glad he's back here, and I'm glad that he's out of that place.

"I can't see him meaning to hurt anybody. Not the Dave I knew, anyway."

She had conditions about allowing the children to visit him.

"I don't want the kids to go in there if he's still got the slightest belief in what he was involved in."

Hicks father, also called Terry, has said he would be disgusted if Ms Sparrow sold her story for money.

Mr Hicks visited his son at Yatala on Saturday and reported that he was in good spirits.