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U.S. Files Terrorism Charges Against Australian

Australian Prime Minister Howard welcomed the charges (file photo) (epa) March 2, 2007 --  The United States has filed terrorism charges against David Hicks, an Australian citizen suspected of aiding the Taliban in Afghanistan.

He's the first detainee at the U.S. Guantanamo Bay prison camp to be charged under new rules for special military trials.

Hicks was captured in Afghanistan and has been held at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for more than five years without trial.

Ongoing delays in bringing him before a court have led to growing calls in Australia for his release.

After the charges of supporting terrorism were announced, Australian Prime Minister John Howard said he was "very pleased" the process had been accelerated.

"The Americans have certainly speeded up the process," Howard said. "Whether that is the result of representations I've made to both [U.S.] President [George W.] Bush and Vice President [Dick] Cheney, I don't know, but we have made those representations. We remain very unhappy that it has taken so long."

(AFP, Reuters)