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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 March 2007, 11:41 GMT
Hicks gets date for court hearing
David Hicks (file photo)
Mr Hicks wants Australia to seek his repatriation
The Australian Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks will face a US military court on 20 March, Australian Prime Minister John Howard has said.

A US military judge charged Mr Hicks on 1 March with supporting terrorism.

Mr Hicks has been in US custody without trial since he was detained in Afghanistan in late 2001 after the Taleban were overthrown.

Mr Howard, an ally of US President George W Bush, said "it has taken too long" for the case to be heard.

Mr Hicks is set to be the first suspect tried under a new US law authorising special military trials of "enemy combatants", passed by Congress last year.

'Unlawful detention'

The US military claims Mr Hicks supported terrorism by attending al-Qaeda training courses, and conducted surveillance on the US embassy in Kabul.

An earlier charge against him of attempted murder was dropped when the US Supreme Court ruled last June that the system of military tribunals then in place to try terror detainees was illegal.

As Mr Howard announced the date of Mr Hicks' arraignment, Australia's Federal Court agreed that his civil case against the government could proceed.

Mr Hicks wants the government to rule that his Guantanamo Bay detention is unlawful and that Australia should still seek his repatriation.

Mr Howard has been under pressure for not doing enough to try to have Mr Hicks repatriated to face trial in Australia.

The Bush administration has said that Mr Hicks can serve his sentence in Australia if convicted.

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