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Guantanamo inmate to serve any sentence in Australia

Written by: Staff

CANBERRA, June 29 (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 today said.

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 Australia.

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 travelling on an Australian passport when he was detained.

Reuters SY DB1129

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