Australian Guantanamo Bay detainee, David Hicks, pleads guilty to terrorist activity

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, March 26 -- Australian David M. Hicks pleaded guilty to one charge of material support for terrorism during a brief military hearing Monday night, becoming the first Guantanamo prisoner to officially accept criminal responsibility for aiding terrorists since the detention facility opened more than five years ago.

The plea during the first day of hearings under the Military Commissions Act of 2006 marks a victory for the Bush administration, which is now likely to secure a conviction in the first case it pursues under Congress's new rules.

David Hicks, the Australian high-school dropout whose detention became an international issue, will serve nine more months in custody, most of it in Australia, under the terms of a plea deal unsealed here Friday.

The sentence came at the end of a long day in Guantánamo’s military commission courtroom and followed the deliberations of an eight-member panel of military officers. Having deliberated for two hours, the panel returned at 8 p.m. with a sentence of seven years, the maximum it was permitted to impose under the deal in which Mr. Hicks pleaded guilty on Monday.