Monday, April 2, 2007

I'm gagged too, says Terry Hicks

By Verity Edwards
April 03, 2007 01:00am

DFAT gagged me, claims Mr Hicks
'This is Big Brother'

Mr Hicks's claims have been denied

THE father of admitted terrorist David Hicks claimed yesterday he had been gagged from revealing facts about his son's five-year incarceration in the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Terry Hicks said the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had written to him outlining the 12-month gag order issued to his son as part of his plea bargain to serve only nine more months in jail, mostly in Australia.

Mr Hicks said the letter - outlining how his son could not be interviewed, write a book or make a film about his time as an enemy combatant - detailed the restrictions on what the Hicks family could reveal about their conversations with David.

"This is Big Brother and because the Americans and the Australian Government coalesce on David's charges, at this point in time we're ruled by them," Mr Hicks said from his Adelaide workplace yesterday.

"If David tells us something, we can't pass it on.

"But I could still talk about the signing of his charges, things like he hasn't been abused."

A DFAT spokesman "adamantly and vehemently" denied Mr Hicks's claims. "We have not written to Terry Hicks since the verdict," the spokesman said.

"We communicated via email to his sister and provided two publicly available documents."

It is understood DFAT emailed Mr Hicks's daughter Stephanie, providing a statement of facts and a copy of Hicks's pre-trial agreement.

Mr Hicks said his son's legal team was examining the contents of the letter.

Hicks's Adelaide-based lawyer, David McLeod, did not return calls.

Mr Hicks said he would continue to speak to the media but did not want to jeopardise the Australian jail term imposed on his son. He rejected suggestions that his son could pose a threat to national security when released in late December.

"David wouldn't hurt a bloody fly at the moment," he said. "David never did any harm to anyone when he was over there anyway. He wasn't armed, he hadn't fired a shot at any coalition forces.

"The only danger David is to anyone is to come back to Australia and probably have to go on the dole because he might find it hard to get a job."

The 31-year-old Australian pleaded guilty in a plea bargain with US authorities last Monday to providing material support to terrorists.

The federal Attorney-General's Department has notified the South Australian Correctional Services department that Hicks has applied to be transferred to Adelaide.

Under the International Transfer of Prisoners Act, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock must ask for supporting documents from US authorities before seeking approval from state Correctional Services Minister Carmel Zollo.

Mr Hicks is yet to hear whether the federal Government will apply for a control order to govern his son's release.

An Australian Federal Police spokesman said it would be inappropriate to comment "on someone who may or may not be subject to control orders".

The South Australian Liberal Party released plans yesterday to introduce a private member's bill to prevent convicted terrorists from profiting from their stories.

"David Hicks, who has admitted his guilt, has a right to tell his story and the media have every right to ask for it," Liberal frontbencher Martin Hamilton-Smith said.

"But if money is involved, the victims of terrorism should be the recipients, not Mr Hicks."

A spokesman for state Attorney-General Michael Atkinson said it was an issue for the federal Government to consider, not the state.

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