David Hicks & Sami al-Hajj – Detainees in Guantanamo Bay

8 Mar

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that David Hicks will appear in a military court at Guantanamo Bay on the 20th March. To be charged with providing material support for terrorism, he faces a possible maximum life sentence in a US prison if found guilty. As has been explained in a previous blog posting, trying Hicks in this military commission will likely lead to a miscarriage of justice as it does not withstand acceptable legal benchmarks. For example, coerced and hearsay is admissible as court evidence.

While Australians are concerned about David Hicks, an Al Jazeera article reports of the hunger strike from one of their own cameraman, Sami al-Hajj, who has similarly been detained in Guantanamo Bay since 2002.

Unlike Hicks, he was neither involved in military conflict. Instead, he was merely a cameraman for Al Jazeera covering the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Unfortunately, he was arrested by Pakistani police in December 2001 after its intelligence alleged him of suspected links to al-Qaeda.

Like Hicks, he claims that he was tortured by the Pakistani police and in Guantanamo Bay. According to the report, the Guantanamo Bay interrogators have beaten him up and demanded he incriminate Al Jazeera. He claimed that he was also told to become a spy for the US in exchange for citizenship. The safety of his family was also threatened during the interrogation.

Despite the increasing media and world-wide attention on Guantanamo Bay, with international NGOs such as Amnesty International calling for its closure, the Bush Administration appears intent to proceed ahead with its torture and military trials.

On the other hand, while Hicks may have the support from some Australians, who could organise themselves to pressurise the Howard government to act, the fear is that those, such as al-Hajj, who is merely a reporter without substantial backing from his own government will be left to his own devices.

==

References

Hicks to appear in court in 12 days, Sydney Morning Herald Tribune, 8 March 2007, http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/hicks-to-appear-in-court-in-12-days/2007/03/08/1173166846572.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1

Al Jazeera detainee ‘force-fed’, March 7, 2007, http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/19771268-9CA6-4EED-BD24-E01263DDF4A2.htm

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