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Australian Guantanamo Detainee Formally Convicted of Supporting Terrorism

A U.S. military tribunal has sentenced Australian Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks to nine months in prison on charges of supporting terrorism.

A panel of military officers Friday had recommended a maximum sentence of seven years. His prison sentence is part of a plea agreement reached between Washington and Canberra that will let him serve out his sentence in his home country.

Speaking in Sydney Saturday following the sentencing, Australian Prime Minister John Howard said that Hicks is not a hero in his eyes, and should not be considered a hero in the eyes of others in Australia.

Hicks has spent five years at Guantanamo Bay. As part of his plea agreement, he states that he was never "illegally mistreated" while in U.S. custody, and he is barred from speaking to the media for a year. But his father, Terry Hicks, said Saturday his son has been "through hell" during his incarceration at the U.S. military camp.

Hicks will be transferred within 60 days. He is the first detainee to be convicted by military tribunals at the prison camp. He pleaded guilty Monday to providing material support for terrorist activities. Prosecutors had accused him of supporting al-Qaida forces during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Nearly 400 terrorist suspects are being held at the U.S. facility in Cuba, awaiting legal action after being picked up in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.