June 29, 2006

Guantanamo inmate to serve any sentence in Australia

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australia's Guantanamo Bay inmate
David Hicks will serve his jail sentence at home if convicted
by the United States military hearings, Australia's Justice
Minister Chris Ellison said on Thursday.

Ellison said Australia had brokered a prisoner-exchange
deal with the United States to allow the return of Hicks, who
was captured in Afghanistan in late 2001 and who has spent 4-
years in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"This is something we have been negotiating for some time
and I can confirm that we do now have an agreement in place for
Mr. Hicks to be transferred to Australia in the event that he
was imprisoned for a period of time," Ellison told reporters.

Adelaide-born Hicks, who has pleaded not guilty to
attempted murder, aiding the enemy and conspiracy, is awaiting
a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on whether the military trials can
go ahead.

Unlike Britain, which has secured the release of nine of
its citizens from Guantanamo Bay, Australia supports the
military hearings and has not sought to return Hicks to

Hicks has claimed dual Australian and British citizenship
because his mother was born in Britain, but Britain said it
would not intervene in his case because Hicks was traveling on
an Australian passport when he was detained.