The Australian Greens today called on the Government to support David Hicks to appeal his US conviction, in the light of Tuesday's US Court of Appeals ruling that the charge he was convicted of is invalid.
Greens spokesperson for Legal Affairs, Senator Penny Wright, said that the decision by the US Court of Appeals confirms the long-held view of many legal commentators that David Hicks' conviction was illegitimate and he should now be given an opportunity to seek repeal of that conviction in a court of law.
"I am extremely disappointed to hear Foreign Minister Bob Carr say today that the Government has no intention of assisting David Hicks. David Hicks has never had a fair trial in a properly constituted court and his conviction has long been considered illegitimate because of the coercion and desperation he was experiencing when he made his plea. We now know that the charge itself was invalid and unlawful," Senator Wright said.
"The consequences of the conviction for David Hicks have been immense, including a now-abandoned action by the Australian government against the proceeds of his book.
"In Senate Estimates on Tuesday, the Attorney Generals' Department confirmed that they had relied on his conviction for their misconceived proceeds of crime action in relation to his book and spent at least $165,000 of public money in pursuing him before dropping it a year later. And yet the government uses taxpayers' funds as an excuse for not assisting him to achieve justice.
"The former Australian government failed to defend David Hicks' rights to a fair process, despite the consistent concerns expressed by bodies like the Law Council of Australia and human rights organisations. It is only fair that the current Australian government now assists him to appeal his wrongful conviction.
"In opposition in 2006, this Government consistently called for a fair trial for David Hicks and highlighted the important role of the Australian government in upholding human rights, fair process and the rule of law for our citizens. It must now live up to its own rhetoric."