Mark Coultan Herald Correspondent at Guantanamo Bay and AAP
April 3, 2007
DAVID HICKS feared he would be shot if he did not co-operate with US interrogators, the Australian prisoner says in an affidavit for an English court case.
And his Australian lawyer says he was tortured during his time at Guantanamo Bay, contradicting Hicks's plea bargain statement, in which he said he had not been mistreated by the US.
Hicks, who has spent five years in the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after he was captured in Afghanistan in late 2001, last week pleaded guilty to a charge of giving material support to terrorists.
In the plea bargain document, Hicks said: "I have never been illegally treated by any person or persons while in the custody of the United States."
But the ABC's Four Corners last night reported that Hicks had recently signed an affidavit for an English court setting out ill treatment.
"I realised that if I did not cooperate with US interrogators, I might be shot," the ABC quoted Hicks as saying.
In the affidavit Hicks also claims that he was slapped, kicked, punched and spat on in Afghanistan, the ABC reported.
He could hear other detainees screaming in pain, saw the marks of their beatings and had a shotgun trained on him during interrogation.
Hicks says in the affidavit that by early 2003, he "felt that I had to ensure that whatever I did pleased the interrogators to keep from being physically abused, placed in isolation and remaining at Guantanamo for the rest of my life", the ABC reported.
He also details twice being taken off a US warship, flown to an unknown location and physically abused by US personnel for a total of 16 hours, although two US investigations have found that claim unsubstantiated.
The allegations were made in a document which was to have been presented to an appeal in London against the British Government's refusal to grant him citizenship.
In this he says he had been repeatedly hit on the back of a head with a rifle, slapped on the head, spat on, kicked, stepped on by troops and punched in the temple. He also claims that a piece of plastic had been forced into his rectum "for no apparent reason".
Hicks's Australian lawyer, David McLeod, made the torture allegation when asked about further interrogations that Hicks has agreed to undergo before he left Guantanamo Bay.
As part of his plea bargain, Hicks signed a document saying he would co-operate "fully, completely and truthfully in post-trial briefings and interviews".
Asked on Sunday about these interviews, Mr McLeod said: "Steps were taken this morning to introduce David to the interrogators here at Guantanamo and there will be a process which will unfold before he leaves. He will be asked to co-operate in a number of issues, but we don't see any problems."
When asked if this would take the same format as his previous interrogations, Mr McLeod said: "Well, hopefully without the torture this time."
His statement was provocative, given that Hicks is still waiting to be transferred to Australia.
Mr McLeod was able to speak more freely than Hicks's American lawyers because he was not a signatory to the plea bargain. Only US lawyers are allowed to represent the detainees at Guantanamo Bay.