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Australia: Hicks expected home tomorrow


Herald Sun:

Confessed terrorism supporter David Hicks is expected to arrive in Adelaide tomorrow morning as the US military and the Australian government maintain a veil of secrecy over his release from Guantanamo Bay.

Hicks was expected to leave Guantanamo on a private plane this afternoon (Guantanamo time), refuel in Tahiti and land at Adelaide's RAAF Edinburgh base tomorrow about 9am (Adelaide time), according to reports.
The Adelaide-born father of two spent more than five years in US military custody at Guantanamo Bay before he received a seven year sentence in March, with all but nine months suspended.

He will serve the remainder of his sentence in Adelaide's Yatala maximum security prison and is expected to be released at the end of this year.

Commander JD Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman, would say only that Hicks would be handed over to Australian authorities by the end of the month. The federal government would not provide any details.

Hicks's father Terry said the federal government was likely to wash its hands of the case once his son returns to Australia.

Mr Hicks, who is waiting for a call from the Australian consulate to say his son is back in Australia, said he believed the government would say the Hicks matter was now a state government concern.

"I don't think it is, I still believe it is the Commonwealth government's (responsibility)," Mr Hicks told reporters at an anti-war forum in Sydney today.

"The federal government are the ones who should be taking a belting in the backside for how they've handled all this."

Mr Hicks does not expect to see his son for up to a week.

"Once he's in the (prison) system we can get a meeting with the jail to find out visitation rights, what we can take in to him and what we can bring away for him and that sort of thing," he said.

He is angry about the secrecy of the transfer and said the federal government was maintaining that his son was a security risk.

"Look at his charges," Mr Hicks said.

"How can he be a security risk guarding a tank that doesn't work."

He said there was a real possibility his son would be placed under control orders, rather than undergoing meaningful rehabilitation, once he is released from prison in December.

Hicks's Australian lawyer, David McLeod, Australian federal police and South Australian correctional officers and possibly a medical officer will accompany Hicks on the flight, expected to take about 24 hours.

The US will not allow Hicks to fly into US airspace because he is deemed a terrorist, so the route will not be a direct one.

When he lands in Adelaide, he will either be driven under strict security or flown by helicopter to Adelaide's toughest jail, the Yatala Labour Prison.

Terry Hicks said he would talk to his son "in general terms" once he returned and would urge him to speak to the media on his release.

He said the family had five-and-a-half years of catching up to do.

"I think that what we've got to do is explain to David the facts of life, that the media won't let him go until he's spoken to them so what we're going to do is hold a press conference for everybody."

Speaking publicly would breach Hick's 12 month gag order, but Mr Hicks said the government was unlikely to react.

Hicks is expected to walk free from Yatala prison on December 30.

Federal Greens leader Bob Brown has accused Prime Minister John Howard of wasting taxpayers' money by flying Hicks back to Australia on a private jet.

Senator Brown estimated the repatriation would cost up to $500,000 and a cheaper option would have been for Hicks to return on a commercial flight under the control of police guards,21985,21758770-661,00.html

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