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Hicks formally charged by US Govt -

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VIRGINIA TRIOLI: David Hicks was formally charged today and could be home before the federal
election. The Pentagon wanted to charge him with two crimes but a judge decided there was not
enough evidence to support the allegation of attempted murder. The trial on the remaining charge
will now have to begin in five months and, if Hicks is found guilty, he could serve his sentence in
Australia. Lateline's Tom Iggulden reports.

TOM IGGULDEN: David Hicks has been in detention for five years without being formally charged. This
morning that all changed.

MAJOR. MICHAEL MORI, DAVID HICKS'S LAWYER: I haven't even seen all the documents yet dealing with
the charges. I need to see that. I can't comment on that right now.

REPORTER: Have you spoken to his family today?

MICHAEL MORI: No. I was sleeping and all of a sudden my phone started ringing and then you guys are
here attacking me.

ALEXANDER DOWNER, FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER: It is a tribute to the degree of influence the
Australian Government has in Washington and the strength of the relationship that, of all the
people held in Guantanamo Bay, the one Australian there is the first person to be tried.

TOM IGGULDEN: The Pentagon had applied to have Hicks charged with attempted murder and providing
material support to a terrorist organisation but a military commission judge said there was only
enough evidence to support the second charge.

ALEXANDER DOWNER: Material support for terrorism is an immensely serious charge.

MICHAEL MORI: No, it's not a serious charge. How could it be a serious charge if it was made up in
2006 and you're applying it to someone in 2000 or 2001? It is called a retrospective legislation
and it goes against our basic values.

TOM IGGULDEN: The Government has said consistently it's against retrospective prosecutions, even
for terrorism, but while the Foreign Minister ducked the issue today...

ALEXANDER DOWNER: That's a matter for the lawyers, that's not a matter for us.

TOM IGGULDEN: ...the Prime Minister couldn't avoid it when David Hicks's father, Terry, called in
on talkback radio.

TERRY HICKS: One of the first things is how come the Americans can drop one charge and then the
charge been retrospected to cover the charges against David and the Australian Government keeps
saying they can't retrospect the law to bring David back to face charges?

JOHN HOWARD, PRIME MINISTER: Well, good morning, Mr Hicks. The reason why this is happening is that
the charge is not retrospective. Since 1994, it has been a crime to materially assist terrorism,
and all that's happened is that that crime has been inserted in the military commission
legislation.

TOM IGGULDEN: The only charge against Mr Hicks arises from legislation passed four years after he
was first detained. Mr Howard says it's the same crime the American Taliban John Walker Lynne was
convicted of in the American civilian courtroom. Mr Hicks's lawyers say the charge against their
client is unlawful.

MICHAEL MORI: If I'm wrong and it is a US crime, why has David Hicks spent five years in
Guantanamo? Why haven't they taken him to a US Federal Court?

TOM IGGULDEN: That's also the view of the Federal Opposition.

KEVIN RUDD, OPPOSITION LEADER: This guy should be put before a civilian court, either in America or
here.

TOM IGGULDEN: But the Government's maintaining its faith in the military commission process.

ALEXANDER DOWNER: Let's not all but set up a running commentary on the evidence or the claims and
counterclaims of the lawyers.

TOM IGGULDEN: Mr Downer was happy to counter claims that the evidence against Mr Hicks was obtained
by torture.

ALEXANDER DOWNER: People from al-Qaeda, when they're captured, always. Hicks's involvement with
al-Qaeda, the extent of his training, that is on the charge sheet and those issues will be heard in
the military commission.

TOM IGGULDEN: Hicks's defence team continues to argue against the rules of evidence in the military
commission that would allow evidence obtained by torture.

MICHAEL MORI: The reality is that an AFL player facing a tribunal to see whether he's suspended for
one or three games has more due process than Hicks will have at this military commission.

ALEXANDER DOWNER: The reason we feel strongly about the charges being heard is we saw 88
Australians killed in Bali by terrorists. That was a very tough experience, above all for the
families, but a tough experience for all Australians and we have been absolutely determined to do
everything we can to stop terrorists and to stop terrorism and fight terrorism.

TOM IGGULDEN: Hicks will have to be arraigned within 30 days. His trial must begin within four
months after that.