Source : - ABC News Online

February 6, 2006

The Australian lawyer for Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks is seeking a new meeting with Foreign Minister Alexander Downer to discuss issues raised during his latest visit to his client in Cuba.

Hicks has also been told for the first time the British Government is challenging his successful court bid for citizenship.

The Adelaide-based lawyer, David McLeod, has just spent five days visiting his client at the US military base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Mr McLeod says the 30-year-old Hicks was subdued when told for the first time that a UK court will next month hear an appeal against the decision to grant him citizenship.

As Hicks enters his fifth year in US custody, Mr McLeod says Hicks is racked by despair and a myriad of health problems.

"His reaction is dulled by just about all events. His hope and despair is paramount, or palpable," he said.

While Mr McLeod says he cannot reveal the details of the talks with his client, he says the information warrants a new meeting with Mr Downer to discuss the 30-year-old's case.

"I've got instructions on a range of topics that require further discussions with Australian government officials," Mr McLeod said.

It has been two months since Mr McLeod was last able to see his client, the visit coming ahead of two key court dates in the UK and the US that could affect David Hicks' case.

Hicks, originally from Adelaide, has been held at Guantanamo Bay since 2002.

The 30-year-old convert to Islam was captured in Afghanistan where he allegedly fought alongside the ruling Taliban against US-led forces who invaded after the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.

He faces charges of conspiracy to commit war crimes, attempted murder by an unprivileged belligerent and aiding the enemy.

Over the next six weeks there are two key court cases in the UK and the US that could affect whether Hicks's military commission hearing resumes.

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