Justice for Hicks & Habib

c. 2004

Donated by Donated by Hannah Middleton

Museum of Australian Democracy collection

The donor of this badge, Hannah Middleton, writes:

Given to me by an Iraqi friend, this badge was part of the campaign in solidarity with two Australians, tortured and imprisoned by the USA and abandoned by the Australian Government.

This badge was produced by the Canterbury Bankstown and Western Sydney Peace Groups, part of a network of community organisations that lobbied for the release of two Australians held by the US military in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

In 2001 Mamdouh Habib was arrested in Pakistan on suspicion of being involved in the September 11 attacks. He was sent by extraordinary rendition (a violation of international law) to Egypt, where he was held for six months and tortured during interrogation. He was then interrogated under torture in Afghanistan before being detained in Guantánamo Bay. His confessions, made under duress, were unproven and he was released without charge in 2005. In 2011 he reportedly received compensation in exchange for absolving the Australian government of responsibility for his treatment during his detention.

In late 2001 David Hicks was arrested by US forces in Afghanistan and accused of fighting for al Qaeda. Hicks was detained in Guantánamo Bay and charged with conspiracy, attempted murder and aiding the enemy, but did not face a judge until August 2004. Almost two years later, charges were dropped after the US Supreme Court rejected the military tribunal system set up by President Bush to try foreign terrorism suspects. Yet Hicks remained imprisoned. In 2007, he was charged under a new law and pleaded guilty to ‘providing material support for terrorism’. This became a crime only after Hicks’s capture; the new law was applied retrospectively. Hicks served out his sentence in Australia. In October 2012, the United States Court of Appeals ruled that the charge under which Hicks had been convicted was invalid. On 18 February 2015, the US Court of Military Commission Review declared Hicks was innocent.