TONY EASTLEY: As Australian terror suspect David Hicks begins his fifth year in detention
at Guantanamo Bay, his Australian lawyer's latest attempt to travel to Cuba has been rejected.
David McLeod says the Government isn't providing enough legal aid funding to
adequately represent Mr Hicks, and the latest refusal for legal aid is just another
in a long list of basic rights that Mr Hicks has failed to receive since his capture in 2001.
Krista Eleftheriou reports.
KRISTA ELEFTHERIOU: For four years David Hicks
has spent 23 hours each day in a prison cell. In that time he's been permitted to see his father
Terry Hicks once and speak to him on three other occasions - the last time on Christmas Eve.
TERRY HICKS: He was pretty down, but after speaking for 38 minutes his spirits were up.
KRISTA ELEFTHERIOU: David Hicks has been charged under US law with conspiracy, attempted murder and aiding the enemy, but he's yet to face the military commission.
The British High Court last month found he had a right to British citizenship.
His lawyers hoped it would force that government to call for his release from Guantanamo Bay, as it did for nine of its citizens once held at the prison.
But the British Government is appealing the court's decision.
Australian lawyer David McLeod says he's hopeful pressure from some Coalition members may bring about change in policy towards David Hicks within Australia.
DAVID MCLEOD: We remain hopeful that the Australian Government will follow the same course as the UK Government and say enough is enough.
KRISTA ELEFTHERIOU: But it seems unlikely. Federal Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock wants David Hicks to be tried in the military commission.
PHILLIP RUDDOCK: At the moment it's not proceeding, because Mr Hicks, through his legal advisers, is seeking to delay it.
KRISTA ELEFTHERIOU: The US Federal Court last year ruled the military commission was unconstitutional.
But the US Senate has passed legislation blocking Guantanamo Bay detainees from accessing US courts.
Both his Australian and US lawyers claim David Hicks won't receive a fair trial in the US military commission.
DAVID MCLEOD: It allows in evidence obtained under torture, it allows in hearsay evidence, it allows for evidence to be put in without having to call the witness who made the statement.
KRISTA ELEFTHERIOU: David McLeod has approached the Federal Government for legal aid funding to visit David Hicks. But that request has been rejected.
Attorney-General Philip Ruddock has defended his department's decision.
PHILIP RUDDOCK: We've provided more than $200,000 worth of financial assistance to Mr Hicks's defence team, and judgements are made by appropriate officers as to whether or not grants should be made.
KRISTA ELEFTHERIOU: Meanwhile David Hicks's American lawyer will travel to Guantanamo Bay shortly to plan his future legal options.
TONY EASTLEY: Krista Eleftheriou ending that report.
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