An Australian was allegedly tortured for five-and-a-half years. Our government did nothing.


David Hicks torture
Former Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks. (Photo via ABC.)

Former Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks has heckled Federal Attorney-General George Brandis at an awards ceremony in Sydney.

His outburst followed the release of a damning US Senate report which said the CIA used “brutal” torture tactics to interrogate suspects in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

“Hey, my name is David Hicks,” he shouted, as Senator Brandis wrapped up his address at a Human Rights Awards function.

“I was tortured for five-and-a-half years in Guantanamo Bay in the full knowledge of your party. What do you have to say?”


The awards ceremony was being held on the same day the US Senate released a damning report into CIA torture which concluded that the intelligence agency used “brutal” and authorised methods.

As Senator Brandis walked off the stage at the Museum of Contemporary Arts, Mr Hicks told reporters he was a “coward” for not answering his question.

“He’s run away,” he said.

“It’s too late – he’s gone.”

The damning US Senate report and several declassified cables say the interrogation of Bali bombings mastermind Hambali Riduan Isamuddin did not yield results. Via ABC.

Mr Hicks was at the event with his lawyer, Stephen Kenny who said his client was angry Senator Brandis was talking about human rights.

“I think David was surprised to find Minister Brandis there, talking about human rights, when he was a member of the Howard government who had so completely ignored David’s human rights,” Mr Kenny said.

“The Australian Government should be held to account how they allowed David Hicks to be treated.”

“Our real legal argument is that the offence to which he pleaded guilty to, simply does not exist in international or indeed Australian or American law.”

This morning, Mr Kenny told ABC News Breakfast the heckling was unplanned.

“We didn’t even know the Attorney-General was going to be speaking there, there was no premeditation.

“It was quite a spontaneous thought by David.

“He didn’t say anything to me about it.”

Mr Kenny said the CIA report didn’t tell the full story of what went on at Guantanamo Bay.

“This is a vindication of David,” he said.

“It confirms everything that we know, that this was just frankly routine and carried out in quite a brutal manner, and David still carries the scars of it today.”


US Senate report shines light on Guantanamo torture

The US Senate report about CIA interrogations post 9/11 said the agency’s methods were “far more brutal than approved” and did nothing to stop any terrorist attacks.

The report said the CIA had tried to justify its use of torture by giving examples of what it called “thwarted” terrorist plots but that the representations were inaccurate and contradicted by the CIA’s own records.

Mr Hicks spent time in the US military prison Guantanamo Bay after being captured in Afghanistan in 2001.

He eventually pleaded guilty to providing material support for terrorism in March 2007, but has since recanted his confession, saying he only pleaded guilty under duress.

He was later transferred to an Adelaide jail in April 2007 where he served nine more months before his release.

Mr Hicks admitted he trained in paramilitary camps in Afghanistan with the Taliban, which others said were affiliated with Al Qaeda.

His lawyers have argued that Hicks said he never knew the camps were affiliated with Al Qaeda.

George Brandis said the government plans to release all asylum seeker children from Christmas Island by Christmas.

Mr Kenny said the “US report on torture confirms everything we know about what happened to David”.

“People have been saying that David really wasn’t tortured but along with hundreds of other people he certainly was.”

He said Mr Hicks believed Senator Brandis signed the control order when he was released from prison in Australia.

Mr Hicks is seeking to overturn his conviction in the US Court of Military Commission Appeals.


Mamdouh Habib, another Australian who was held at Guantamo Bay, said he would consider legal action against the Australian Government for what he says was complicity in his torture.

Brandis stressed plan to release asylum seeker children

Senator Brandis had used the ceremony to reiterate the Government’s plan to release all asylum seeker children from Christmas Island by Christmas, a condition of a deal struck with the Senate crossbench last week.

“Between now and Christmas, in other words, in the next two to three weeks, all of the children in detention on Christmas Island will be released from Christmas Island and will be returned to the community as soon as possible,” he said.

“All the children in detention will be released by the early months of next year.”

Senator Brandis said the Government would also ask the Human Rights Commission to conduct a major inquiry into employment discrimination against older Australians and people with disabilities.

He said he hoped the commission would make the inquiry a priority next year and build on the work of Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan.

“I hope the commission will make that task, a task which means so much to so many Australians an order of first priority in the year ahead,” he said.

“That body of work will build upon the important work led by Susan Ryan in recent years to raise the profile of this issue and subject it to comprehensive review and a complete set of recommendations to the Government.”

This article originally appeared on ABC News and has been republished with full permission.