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Hicks's detention straining Aust-US alliance: -

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Hicks's detention straining Aust-US alliance: McCallum

Broadcast: 07/03/2007

Reporter: Michael Edwards

The United States Ambassador to Australia, Robert McCallum, has justified the detention of
Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks, but admitted the issue has strained the US-Australia alliance.

Transcript

TONY JONES: Well, the United States Ambassador to Australia says he can understand frustration over
delays to bring Guantanamo Bay inmate David Hicks to trial. In a speech in Sydney Robert McCallum
justified the continued detention of Mr Hicks but admitted the issue has placed strain on the
Australia-US alliance. Michael Edwards has this report.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: David Hicks is big news in Australia, but according to the US Ambassador his
prime-time coverage in America will come once his case goes before a Military Commission.

ROBERT McCALLUM, US AMBASSADOR: I anticipate that, once the Military Commission's proceedings
commence, it will be of tremendous interest in the United States.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: As ambassador, it is Robert McCallum's task to sell the brand of justice the
United States intends to give David Hicks. David Hicks has been in US custody since 2001 when he
was captured with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Ambassador McCallum is the first point of call when
the Australian Government wants the US to know it is getting increasingly angry about Mr Hicks's
situation.

ROBERT McCALLUM: Australians are understandably angry and distraught by the delay.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Ambassador McCallum says he shares this sentiment.

ROBERT McCALLUM: We all wish the legal process would move faster, but the executive branch cannot -
under our system or yours, but particularly under our system with checks and balances and the
division of power - the executive branch cannot dictate the schedule or the actions of the
legislative branch or the judicial branch.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: But he also seems well aware that this explanation is wearing thin in Australia.

ROBERT McCALLUM: You can say in general terms at any time there is a matter of irritation between
governments, on whatever it is, it is something that you would like to resolve and we are
proceeding to resolve it as expeditiously as we can.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Tonight Robert McCallum gave a detailed justification both for David Hicks's
continued detention and the Military Commission system under which he will be tried. He says that
David Hicks's detention is justified for security reasons and under US law.

ROBERT McCALLUM: These procedures are intended to ensure that no person is detained unless he is in
fact an enemy combatant, and that no enemy combatant is held any longer than is absolutely
necessary.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Ambassador McCallum guarantees that Mr Hicks will continue to receive strong legal
representation. He even gave qualified praise to his military lawyer Major Michael Mori.

ROBERT McCALLUM: As a lawyer and American citizen, I'm extraordinarily proud of Major Mori. I do
not agree with things that Major Mori says, but I'm a recovering lawyer, I come from that ilk.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: David Hicks is set to appear at a preliminary hearing of the Military Commission
later this month.