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Hicks lawyers seek to force Australia to negotiate for Guantanamo release

[JURIST] Australia's Federal Court [official website] has agreed to hold a hearing next week to consider a petition [docket materials] filed Wednesday by lawyers for Australian Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks [JURIST news archive]. Hicks' lawyers have asked the court to direct the federal government, including Australian Attorney-General Philip Ruddock and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer [official profiles], to negotiate Hicks' release from the US military facility. Hicks' lawyers say the government has an obligation to protect Hicks under the Australian constitution [text] and that Ruddock and Downer would be able to secure Hicks' release and repatriation to Australia.

Hicks was taken to Guantanamo Bay after he was captured in Afghanistan, where he allegedly had been fighting for the Taliban. He was charged [PDF text; JURIST report] in 2004, but his trial was delayed [JURIST report] while the US Supreme Court considered, and eventually ruled against, the legality of the military commissions system. New charges are expected to be filed against Hicks and other detainees once new commission procedures are finalized under the recently-passed Military Commissions Act [JURIST news archive]. There has been increasing pressure in Australia for the federal government to take action in the case with Australian state and territory attorneys general sending a letter to Ruddock late last month urging that Hicks be brought to trial in Australia [JURIST report]. Earlier in November, Ruddock himself said that the government would request Hicks' return [JURIST report] if charges were not laid against him soon. AAP has more.

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