WASHINGTON - A US military appeals court on Wednesday threw out the conviction of Australian David Hicks on a terrorism-related charge, saying the activity for which he was convicted did not become a crime until years after he was captured in Afghanistan.
Hicks, 39, pleaded guilty in 2007 to providing material support to terrorism after acknowledging he had trained at an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan and met al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
He was sentenced to seven years in prison, but confinement in excess of nine months was suspended. Hicks was repatriated to Australia in 2007 shortly after pleading guilty.
Army Lieutenant Myles Caggins, a Pentagon spokesman for military commissions, said Hicks successfully appealed before the US Court of Military Commissions Review on the grounds that a superior court had previously ruled the charge of providing material support to terrorism could not be used against people whose actions took place before 2006.
Providing material support to terrorism was not designated a crime under law until that time, he said.
Hicks traveled to Pakistan and in 2000 joined Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET), a group later designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, the three-judge panel said in its ruling.