Hicks wants court order terms eased

Penelope Debelle, Adelaide
December 31, 2007
FREED terrorism supporter David Hicks is expected to ask a court to reduce the requirement that he report to police three times to once a week.

The 12-month Australian Federal Police order under which Hicks, 32, can live in the community requires him to begin reporting in person today to an Adelaide police station where his fingerprints will be checked against records obtained hours after his release on Saturday.

His lawyer, David McLeod, who escorted Hicks back to Australia in May after he accepted a plea bargain from the US military in which he confessed to supporting terrorism, said the primary basis of the control order would not be challenged when it was returned to the Federal Magistrates Court for confirmation on February 18.

However, the requirement that Hicks report three times a week was unusual and could interfere with his reassimilation back into the community, he said.

"We regard (three times a week) as too onerous to lead a normal life," Mr McLeod said.

But former foreign minister Alexander Downer supported the control order, saying what Hicks had done in Afghanistan was "evil" and an "act of treachery" and he had no regrets over his treatment.

Hicks left Yatala Labour Prison on Saturday morning in a hired car with Bronwyn Mewett, the former wife of his father Terry Hicks and organiser of the Fair Go For David support group, and has not been seen since in the community.

Hicks is believed to have made phone calls to friends and is faring well. Adelaide is in the midst of a prolonged heatwave, with temperatures in the high 30s, and Hicks has expressed interest in having a swim and "a beer at the beach".

Mr McLeod said Hicks was not being hidden away in any sinister sense but was at a location the family wanted to keep secret for as long as possible to allow him time to adjust to life outside prison.

He said he would not be surprised if Hicks spent much of his time in his room without wanting to go out.

"Obviously someone who has spent the length of time that he has in isolation over the years will take a bit of getting used to going out and about in the public again," Mr McLeod said. "He will need some time to get used to normal life."

Hicks' former lawyer Stephen Kenny, who organised an international coalition of civil rights lawyers to challenge the legitimacy of Hicks' detention in the US terrorist prison at Guantanamo Bay, yesterday called on the Rudd Government to distance itself from its American allies over Guantanamo Bay.

Mr Kenny, a civil rights expert who was the first lawyer allowed to represent a Guantanamo Bay detainee, said the United States' treatment of terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay had "trashed" the Geneva Conventions that protected prisoners of war.

"The Rudd Government needs to put the pressure on the American Government by formally advising them they do not support Guantanamo Bay and what is happening there," Mr Kenny said yesterday. "No other government in the world has supported it."

The Australian Democrats and South Australian Greens senator-elect Sarah Hanson-Young have also called for the closure of the military prison. Ms Hanson-Young called it "an icon of lawlessness" and asked for the people left there to be given fair trials.

"Legal experts around the world have condemned Guantanamo Bay," she said.