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Australia justice minister calls Hicks detention 'totally inappropriate'

[JURIST] Australian Minister of Justice Chris Ellison [official website] Friday offered the Australian government's strongest criticism yet of the US government's 5-year detention without charge of Australian citizen David Hicks [JURIST news archive] at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], calling it "totally inappropriate" and urging that a trial be held quickly. Ellison has not, however, endorsed a letter signed by 96 members of Australian Parliament and sent to US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi [official website] on Thursday. The letter [press release], which urges the US Congress to support Hicks' return to Australia for trial, bears the signature of only one Australian government official [AAP report]; Ellison has stressed that the government is united in its desire to force charges and a trial for Hicks.

Hicks has yet to be re-charged after the lapse of his original 2004 charges [text, PDF] in the wake of the US Supreme Court's finding in June of last year that US military commissions originally established by President Bush to try Guantanamo detainees were unconstitutional and required Congressional authorization. Hicks was originally detained in Afghanistan while allegedly fighting for the Taliban. ABC News has more. CBS News has additional coverage.

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