Australia's government and close ally the United States behaved in a tyrannical way and for "evil purpose" by jailing militants at Guantanamo Bay, former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser said on yesterday.
Fraser, a conservative and mentor to current Australian Prime Minister John Howard, said Australia seemed to have lost its democratic path under the man who served as his treasurer and center-right Liberal Party deputy before becoming leader in 1996.
In an election year criticism of U.S. influence over political direction in Australia, Fraser said Howard should never have agreed to a citizen and accused Taliban fighter, David Hicks, being locked up for five years at Guantanamo Bay awaiting trial.
"We used to believe that those in positions of political authority would respect and work to protect the rights of all Australian citizens. We now know that to be naive and incorrect," Fraser said in a speech to the Australian National University. "Policies now applied suggest that the rule of law and due process for all people, regardless of influence, race, religion, colour or country of origin, is under threat."
Fraser, who led Australia from 1975 to 1983, has become alienated from his political roots and has been a staunch critic of many Howard policies, including enforced detention for refugee hopefuls in remote offshore processing centers.
In one of his strongest anti-Howard speeches so far and with polls showing slipping support for Australia's leader ahead of elections later this year, Fraser said Australia's agreement with Guantanamo military tribunals was a disgrace.