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Australia lawyers condemn government handling of Hicks Guantanamo case

[JURIST] Members of the Australian Lawyers Alliance [official website] have voted unanimously to condemn the Australian government's handling of the case of Australian national David Hicks [JURIST news archive], held by American authorities at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] after being captured in Afghanistan [JURIST news archive] in 2001. Hicks stands accused of fighting against the United States and its allies as an "enemy combatant", but is yet to face trial by military commission, although new charges are expected to be filed against him in the wake of the US Congress' passage of a new military commissions bill last month. Hicks' lawyer David McLeod has been pushing [JURIST report] for his client to be returned to Australia [JURIST new archive]. McLeod's pleas come amidst concerns in the United States and Australia about torture allegations [JURIST report] and Hicks' overall health [JURIST report].

Supporters of the ALA statement say it was made to pressure the national government to either bring Hicks home or see to it that he gets a trial. To this point the administration of John Howard, a staunch US ally in the "war on terror", has been content to leave Hicks where he is, has supported the US military commission process, and has not attempted to intervene on Hicks' behalf. ABC News has more.

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