‘Australians remain in Guantanamo because they’re still a threat’
SYDNEY: Two Australians held at a US military base in Cuba have not been released because they continue to pose a threat, US ambassador Tom Schieffer said Sunday.
David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib are the only two Australians held at Guantanamo Bay. They have been in captivity for more than two years without charge.
“We still perceive them as being threats to both the United States and our allies,” Schieffer told Channel Seven television Sunday. “People have been released from Guantanamo, but they have not been released because of their nationality. They have been released because they are believed to be lesser threats to the United States, or that they can be turned over to their home countries.”
About a dozen of the nearly 660 detainees held at the prison camp, from Britain, Denmark and Afghanistan, have returned home. They were all released after returning home without charge by their country’s authorities.
Hicks, 28, was captured by the United States in December 2001 in Afghanistan, where he is alleged to have been fighting with the Taliban. He is one of two men to have been appointed a military lawyer by the US Defense Department. The charges he faces and the date of his military tribunal remain unclear. Habib, 47, was arrested in Pakistan three weeks after the Sept 11 attacks. He has claimed that he was only there searching for a school for his children, who live with their mother in Sydney. Both suspects’ families deny they are terrorists or affiliated to terror groups. —AP