BRISBANE, Australia – Irish rock group U2 opened an Australian tour with a call for the only Australian terror suspect held by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay to be repatriated and tried at home.
Activist lead singer Bono interrupted the band's anthem "Sunday Bloody Sunday" at a concert in the city of Brisbane on Tuesday night to call for alleged Taliban fighter David Hicks, 31, to be brought back from the U.S. military base in Cuba where he has been held for almost five years without trial.
"In our 20s, we used to do a lot of work for Amnesty and tonight we're still working for them," said Bono, referring to the campaign by London-based human rights group Amnesty International to end Hicks' incarceration.
"We're calling for David Hicks to be brought back to Australia to face fair trial here," Bono, also a leading advocate for canceling developing countries' debts, told the audience of 50,000.
Prime Minister John Howard's center-right government, which has sent troops to support the U.S.-led war in Iraq, has come under mounting domestic pressure to ensure the former kangaroo skinner is tried soon or sent home.
But Howard refuses to ask Washington to repatriate Hicks, arguing that he cannot be tried in Australia because the terrorist activities he is accused of in Afghanistan in 2001 were not prohibited by Australian law at the time.
Hicks has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder, conspiracy to commit war crimes and aiding the enemy. But those charges were withdrawn after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that the military tribunals were illegal.