Source: TheSydney Morning Herald
August 21 2006
Phillip Coorey Political Correspondent
THE US Government has seized privileged legal material from the Australian Guantanamo Bay prisoner David Hicks and fellow inmates.
Lawyers have labelled it the latest abuse of legal process concerning the prisoners. The material was seized with all other possessions, including blankets and books, as part of an investigation into the suicides of three inmates in June.
After the raid by US Navy investigators, lawyers for the prisoners lodged a complaint demanding to know what had been taken.
Documents filed in the US Federal Court last week show the US Justice Department admitted it seized from Hicks and others "attorney-client communications".
His lawyer, Major Michael Mori, who is in Australia campaigning for a fair trial for his client, said yesterday the privileged material was "the last legal right that was being respected".
"Now it appears that that's been violated as well," he said.
"If you spoke to your attorney, would you want the Government to know what you said?
Major Mori was baffled as to why Hicks had his material seized, given he was being held in isolation in a different part of the camp to that where a Yemeni and two Saudis killed themselves.
"That's the problem. There's no logic at Guantanamo," the US Marines lawyer said. "You don't know what's going on down there until it happens and they want to tell you."
Hicks was charged with three terrorist offences, all of which dissolved last month when the US Supreme Court ruled the military commissions set up to try non-US prisoners in the war against terrorism were unlawful.
Hicks's attempt to be released from Guantanamo Bay by becoming a British citizen remains in limbo. Recently his citizenship was granted and then withdrawn in the space of hours.