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Blair Refuses to Meet Guantanamo Detainee Hicks' Dad
The British government has not given a commitment to accept Australian terrorist suspect David Hicks if he wins British citizenship.

But Hicks' father, Terry, who met Britain's High Commissioner to Australia in Canberra to press his son's case, says he was given a fair hearing.

Earlier, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who addressed the Australian parliament, ruled out meeting Terry Hicks, saying it would be inappropriate.

"We've got a court case about the application of David Hicks and it wouldn't be appropriate or right for me to meet his father, but I've asked the British high commissioner to do so," Mr Blair told ABC radio.

Hicks has been held at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for four years and has applied for British citizenship in an attempt to improve his chances of being freed.

Hicks, whose mother is British, won the right to a British passport in the country's High Court last December, but the British government has appealed the ruling.

Terry Hicks, who sat in parliament to hear Mr Blair's speech, said the British High Commissioner, Helen Liddell, could not give any commitments about what would happen if his son won his case.

"While there's a court case going on you can't say too much," Mr Hicks told reporters.

"I knew darn well they couldn't answer that question - if he does get his citizenship what would happen - because it's down the road."

But Mr Hicks said the high commissioner agreed to pass on his appeals to the Blair government.

Mr Blair also refused to be drawn on whether he would fight for Hicks' release from Guantanamo, as he did successfully with nine British detainees, if Hicks was ruled to be a British citizen.

"I shouldn't really argue on a hypothesis," he said.

"I've made it clear that I think in the end Guantanamo's an anomaly, it's got to come to an end ... but I do hope people remember that it also arose out of a fight against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in which our troops were engaged and in which people were trying to kill our troops."

Terry Hicks denied his trip to Canberra had been a waste of time.

"Quietly, I think we've achieved quite a bit, particularly on the way it was done," Mr Hicks said.

"We were quite conservative and quite good about it, we didn't push hard on any issues.

"I think this just showed, particularly the English government, that maybe things might be worth looking at."

But Mr Hicks said that while he was happy with the meeting, he was not taking too much hope from it.

"I never get too positive because things can change in seconds," he said.

He said the Blair government had set a precedent by securing the release of other British citizens from Guantanamo Bay, and he hoped his son would receive the same treatment if he won citizenship.

A final decision on David Hicks' citizenship is expected within a month.

Australian Greens leader Bob Brown said he had congratulated Mr Blair, during a brief encounter after the British PM's speech, for his stance on Guantanamo Bay and asked him to do what he could to help David Hicks.

SOURCE: The Age


Click Here for more info on David Hicks and inmates at Guantanamo Bay

Hicks petition launched by Democrats
AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS PRESS RELEASES
Senator Natasha Stott Despoja
Democrats Senator for South Australia
Australian Democrats spokesperson for Attorney Generals
14 March 2006
Press Release Number: hqyqyfoy

The Australian Democrats today launched a petition calling for the Guantanamo Bay military facility to be closed and highlighting the injustice faced by South Australian citizen David Hicks.

"David Hicks has languished in the Guantanamo gulag for four years and still has no real prospect of receiving a fair trial," Democrats' Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Senator Natasha Stott Despoja said.

"The continuing incarceration of David Hicks is a disgrace for the United States Government and the Australian Government.

"Guantanamo Bay is saturated with breaches of international law and the facility must be shut down.

"There is much to hide: the United States recently refused to allow the United Nations full access to its facilities.

"The recent release of 133 detainees, 119 to detention in their country of citizenship, from Guantanamo Bay, has further highlighted the illegitimacy of the facility's operation.

"British Prime Minister Tony Blair, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan and leading international jurists have condemned Guantanamo Bay, so why does our Government continue to offer its unquestioning support?

"Our Government must join other leading voices in the international community in opposing the ongoing operation of detention at Guantanamo Bay," Senator Stott Despoja said.

Copies of the petition are available on request.
Click Here to Print Petition - Download in Word format

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