P. S. Suryanarayana

SINGAPORE: With the U.S. filing a terrorism charge against an Australian national, David Hicks, Canberra on Friday expressed "relief" that "the trial is now imminent" in respect of the accused, who was being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison for several years without being brought to justice.

Mr. Hicks is to be tried on the charge of providing "material support for terrorism."

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said he had, prior to this development, pressed the U.S. for speeding up the matters concerning the detenu. Noting that the case covered the additional allegations of involvement with four terrorist organisations, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said "we have been very unhappy about the length of time it has taken for these charges to be brought forward.