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Terror conviction of Australian held at Guantanamo struck down

By Danielle Haynes
Terror conviction of Australian held at Guantanamo struck down
David Hicks, an Australian who pleaded guilty in 2007 to providing material support to terror groups after being held at Guantanamo prison for five years. His conviction was overturned Wednesday. File photo by Adam Thomas/Flickr

CANBERRA, Australia, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- The U.S. Court of Military Commission Review struck down the terror conviction of Australian David Hicks, who says he gave a confession under torture while being held at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay.

Hicks, 39, pleaded guilty in 2007 to providing material support for terrorism for allegedly fighting with the Taliban. He was captured in 2002 in Afghanistan and spent five years in prison on a vessel offshore Guantanamo.

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Under his plea agreement, Hicks was sentenced to seven years in prison. He agreed to not speak to the media for one year, to give any money he got from his story to the Australian government and to stipulate that he had "never been illegally treated by any persons in the control or custody of the United States." All but nine months of his sentence was suspended.

Hicks appealed his conviction in November 2013, saying his plea was a desperate act to get out of Guantanamo prison because he had been under duress. The U.S. Court of Military Commission Review struck down his conviction.

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"Well it means David Hicks' conviction has been set aside and he's been declared an innocent man so it confirms what we knew all along," Hicks's lawyer, Stephen Kenny, told Australian Broadcasting Corp. "David Hicks was innocent and that has formally been recorded by the military commission itself."

Prosecutors said his conviction should stand because he promised he wouldn't appeal as part of his plea arrangement.

Hicks wrote about his experience at Guantanamo in a memoir titled "Guantanamo: My Journey."

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