“I believe it’s too coincidental that David is kept out of sight until after the election”
Hicks, a former kangaroo skinner, will be transferred from Guantanamo to a prison in Adelaide within two months.
His father questioned why US prosecutors had chosen to ask for a lenient sentence in exchange for a guilty plea instead of pursuing a trial and the 20-year prison term.
“It shows how weak the evidence is in this charade,” he said.
“I believe it’s too coincidental that David is kept out of sight until after the election,” said Terry.
“It’s political and designed to help the government’s chances.”
The plea deal prevents Hicks, 31, from speaking to the media for a year or pursuing his allegations of abuse while in US custody.
Many Australians have protested against his five-year detention at Guantanamo without being charged, and called for his release.
Australian legal observers and opposition legislators have echoed Terry Hicks’s views that the deal was designed to remove potential political embarrassment for John Howard, the Australian prime minister, who is seeking a re-election this year.
“It might be just a coincidence but if it is, it’s an amazing one,” Lex Lasry, an independent legal observer of the Guantanamo proceedings, said.
Major Michael Mori, Hicks’s military lawyer, said the paperwork for his client’s return would be completed by the end of the week.
“Really, at this point everything is in place except for typing up a record of trial which could be done in two days.
“The convening authority’s action could be done very quickly … by the end of this week,” he said.
‘Hicks no hero’
“I must say, for those people who say ‘poor David Hicks’, I say the poor dead and their families that died in the World Trade Centre and in the Bali bombings”
Peter Costello, Australia’s treasurer
But relief that Hicks would soon be returned to Australia was tempered by a reminder from Peter Costello, the treasurer, that Hicks was no hero, and who, by his own admission, had supported “terrorists” against his countrymen.
“David Hicks admits he trained with a couple of terrorist organisations, including al-Qaeda, which killed thousands of people, including Australians,” Costello said.
“I must say, for those people who say ‘poor David Hicks’, I say the poor dead and their families that died in the World Trade Centre and in the Bali bombings.
“He trained with an organisation that killed Australians, he fought with an organisation that fought against Australians and he fought against his own country,” Costello added.
Howard said on Saturday he would not express a view on the leniency of the sentence or the political value of Hicks remaining in prison until after the election.
“We didn’t impose the sentence,” he said.
“The bottom line will always be that he pleaded guilty to knowingly assisting a terrorist organisation.”