Major Michael Mori Interview: 
Broadcast 03/10/04 ABC Australia "Lateline"

Yesterday's release of five British prisoners from Guantanomo Bay has renewed focus on the plight of Australians David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib. Leading David Hick's defence is his US military lawyer, Major Michael Mori. As a US military appointment, Major Mori has surprised many here and in the US with his damning condemnation of the legal process that David Hicks will be facing. Major Mori is currently in Australia and Mark Davis spoke with him a short time ago in Adelaide. 


MARK DAVIS: Major Michael Mori thanks for joining the program. What's brought you to Australia? 

MAJOR MICHAEL MORI, DAVID HICKS’ US MILITARY LAWYER: Basically I'm here to conduct a background investigation regarding David Hicks, meet with his family, meet with Mr Steve Kenny our foreign attorney consultant, he's come twice over to the United States it's about time I came over here and visited him in his office. 

MARK DAVIS: The Australian Government is either being silent or openly hostile regarding David Hicks. What level of cooperation are you getting from Australian officials, are you satisfied with that? 

MICHAEL MORI: I received good cooperation from the Australian Federal Police and assisted me since I've been here. 

MARK DAVIS: The British prisoners just this week from Guantanamo Bay have been released. Could the Australians have been released? Could we have not got as far as we're getting now if the Australian Government had lobbied on their behalf? 

MICHAEL MORI: Well, I think anything is possible. I don't want to comment too on motives of any government officials, but I think it's good to see that the British got five home, the four remaining, it was good to see Mr Jack Straw the foreign secretary for Britain say the four remaining in Guantanmo should receive a trial in accordance with the international standards or go back to their country and I'm just hoping David Hicks will receive the same standards. 

MARK DAVIS: Can you see any substantial differences between the cases of the British gentlemen and the Australians? 

MICHAEL MORI: I can't go into the facts obviously of the British, they're not my clients and I can't talk about the facts of David Hicks's case at this time. All the information I've received has been under a protective order. 

MARK DAVIS: Have you made any representations to Australia's attorney-general or the Australian Government that they should be lobbying on behalf of their citizens? 

MICHAEL MORI: Well, I wouldn't say of lobbying anyone specific in the government. I think there was a need to come out and make people aware of the unfairness within the military commission that's set to try David Hicks. I think I'd be remiss in my duties if I didn't do that. 

MARK DAVIS: Our government has turned over evidence to the US prosecutors, have you been given complete access to the evidence? 

MICHAEL MORI: I've had good access. The prosecutor assigned on this case is very cooperative. And since we don't have charges yet, I don't have full discovery rights but I would anticipate that if charges came tomorrow or a month from now, that I would have full access and that's what I'm expecting. 

MARK DAVIS: Much of this case seems to be operating in an information vacuum, but our Prime Minister and our Foreign Minister have implied at least, that the secret material that they've seen is damning against David Hicks. In your opinion, from the evidence that you've seen, what is the nature of that evidence? 

MICHAEL MORI: Well, I can't disclose the nature of the evidence. All I can really say, I've been approved to say is obviously David Hicks has not injured or killed any US citizen or US service member. Obviously, as the Australian Government has said, his conduct did not violate Australian law. So it begs the question of what law did his conduct violate if not the country to which he owes allegiance. 

MARK DAVIS: Of course that's the key question and without going into the specifics, in your opinion has David Hicks committed any offence under any normal legal system that you're aware of? 

MICHAEL MORI: Well, no, and I'm hoping that David Hicks is not charged. If he is charged it should be in a commission and only for an internationally recognised violation of the law of war. He's not in a US federal court so he shouldn't be charged with any US federal laws, he didn't violate Australian law, so I'm very curious to see his charge sheet. 

MARK DAVIS: Let's look at the trial process rather than the charges themselves. Does this process accord with your notion of what a fair trial should be? 

MICHAEL MORI: No, it does not. It is completely absent of any of the typical checks and balances that you would find in the US court martial system or the US civilian court system. There's no independent judge that is to operate as the arbiter and ensure fairness for both sides, that has been completely removed from the system. There is no independent right of appeal to a civilian independent body in the military, the US court martial system you could appeal to the Court of Appeals for the armed forces which is all civilian and all the way up to the United States Supreme Court and that right has been removed in this commission process. 

MARK DAVIS: How difficult is it for you, a US marine, to not just defend your client, but to attack the process by which he's being tried as essentially unjust? 

MICHAEL MORI: Well, I don't - I think that's part of my duty is to ensure that if David Hicks goes to trial, and that's what I'm saying. I'm not saying let David Hicks go. If you think he's violated a law then take him to an established justice system. If there's not credible evidence, that doesn't justify changing the rules. 

MARK DAVIS: Have you faced pressure to cease criticising the system, because this is the most damning condemnation you can make, to criticise the system and you are a US military officer? 

MICHAEL MORI: I don't - I'm not really worried about criticism. I have support from my chief defence counsel and that's really whose opinion I care about. 

MARK DAVIS: Well who how do you rate, if the charges do proceed, how do you rate David Hicks's chances of an acquittal or... 

MICHAEL MORI: It's not a fair system. It's designed to have no independent check on the process and it's designed to have centralised control within one branch of the government which is totally opposite of our justice system values in America in the military court marshal system that I've experienced. 

MARK DAVIS: So if this trial proceeds in its current form and David Hicks is convicted, you would regard that conviction as not only unjust, but quite possibly illegal? 

MICHAEL MORI: That's really to be determined afterwards, if we can get a federal court to review his convictions and right now the rules don't permit myself to go to a federal US court to try to get relief for David Hicks. 

MARK DAVIS: And are you requesting that right? 

MICHAEL MORI: If it came to that, I would do that. We requested the ability to file that paperwork in support of the Supreme Court case regarding David Hicks and others. We were granted permission to do that and so I would hope I receive it in the future. But the way the rules are written, it really reflects the design of the creators and what their goal is. 

MARK DAVIS: And just lastly, how is David Hicks squaring up to all this? 

MICHAEL MORI: I think he - myself, Steve Kenny and the attorney have been straight with David and he knows the situation he's facing. He knows he's facing a system that is not seeking the truth and determine innocence from guilt. He knows that. I think he's trying to hang in there the best he can. I think when I go see him next, I can at least inform him that Australia past the law that would allow him to serve any time, if he is convicted, back in Australia. I think that will give him a little bit more reassurance but the commission process is just nothing that he's looking forward to. 

MARK DAVIS: A little bit of cold comfort to serve his time in Australia. Major Michael Mori thanks again for joining us. 

MICHAEL MORI: Thank you for having me sir.


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