On 7 August 1975, David Hicks was born in Adelaide, South Australia. He would go on to become a prisoner of the United States Government at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
He attended Al Qaeda’s Al Farouq training camp in Afghanistan, and met with Osama Bin Laden during 2001. He was then detained by the United States in Guantanamo Bay detention camp from 2002 until 2007.
In 2007, Hicks consented to a plea bargain in which he pleaded guilty to charges of providing material support for terrorism by the United States Guantanamo military commission under the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Hicks received a suspended sentence and returned to Australia. The conviction was overturned by the U.S. Court of Military Commission Review in February 2015.
Hicks became one of the first people charged and subsequently convicted under the Military Commissions Act. There was widespread Australian and international criticism and political controversy over Hicks’ treatment, the evidence tendered against him, his trial outcome, and the newly created legal system under which he was prosecuted.
In October 2012, the United States Court of Appeals ruled that the charge under which Hicks had been convicted was invalid because the law did not exist at the time of the alleged offence, and it could not be applied retroactively.
In January 2015, Hicks’ lawyer announced that the US government had said that it does not dispute he is innocent and his conviction was not correct.
Earlier, during 1999, Hicks converted to Islam and took the name Muhammed Dawood (محمد داود). He was later reported to have been publicly denounced due to his lack of religious observance. Hicks was captured in Afghanistan in December 2001 by the Afghan Northern Alliance and sold for a US$5,000 bounty to the United States military.
He was transported to Guantanamo Bay where he was designated an enemy combatant. He alleged that during his detention, he was tortured via anal examination. The United States first filed charges against Hicks in 2004 under a military commission system newly created by Presidential Order.
Those proceedings failed in 2006 when the Supreme Court of the United States ruled, in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, that the military commission system was unconstitutional. The military commission system was re-established by an act of the United States Congress.
Revised charges were filed against Hicks in February 2007 before a new commission under the new act. The following month, in accordance with a pre-trial agreement struck with convening authority Judge Susan J. Crawford, Hicks entered an Alford plea to a single newly codified charge of providing material support for terrorism. Hicks’s legal team attributed his acceptance of the plea bargain to his “desperation for release from Guantanamo” and duress under “instances of severe beatings, sleep deprivation and other conditions of detention that contravene international human rights norms.”
Return to Australia
In April 2007, Hicks was returned to Australia to serve the remaining nine months of a suspended seven-year sentence. During this period, he was precluded from all media contact. There was criticism that the government delayed his release until after the 2007 Australian election.
Colonel Morris Davis, the former Pentagon chief prosecutor, later confessed political interference in the case by the Bush administration in the United States and the Howard government in Australia. He said that Hicks should not have been prosecuted.
Hicks served his term in Adelaide’s Yatala Labour Prison and was released under a control order on 29 December 2007. The control order expired in December 2008.
Early life and marriage
David Hicks was born in Adelaide, South Australia, to Terry and Susan Hicks. His parents separated when he was ten years old, and his father later remarried. He has a half sister.
Described by his father as “a typical boy who couldn’t settle down” and by his former school principal as one of “the most troublesome kids,” Hicks reportedly experimented with alcohol and drugs as a teenager and was expelled from Smithfield Plains High School in 1990 at age 14.
Before turning 15, Hicks was given dispensation by his father from attending school. His former partner has claimed that Hicks turned to criminal activity, including vehicle theft, allegedly in order to feed himself, although no adult criminal record was ever recorded for this.
Hicks moved between various jobs, including factory work and working at a series of outback cattle stations in the Northern Territory, Queensland and South Australia.
Hicks met Jodie Sparrow in Adelaide when he was 17 years old. Sparrow already had a daughter, whom Hicks raised as his own. Hicks and Sparrow had two children together, daughter Bonnie and son Terry, before separating in 1996. After their separation, Hicks moved to Japan to become a horse trainer.
He married Aloysia Brooks in 2009. David Hicks appeared in court in April 2017 for allegedly assaulting a subsequent partner in Craigmore, South Australia but the case was dropped with legal costs awarded against the South Australia Police.
Hicks now lives in Adelaide and has written an autobiography.