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2 Britons, Australian among tribunal suspects

British officials said Friday two Britons were among the six al-Qaida suspects who face possible trial on terrorism charges before U.S. military tribunals and there are "serious concerns" in the government about the judicial process.

While U.S. officials have not publicly identified the six detainees, a spokesman for the Foreign Office said Washington had informed British diplomats of the names of the two Britons _ Moazzam Begg, 35, of Birmingham and Feroz Abbasi, 23, of south London. Their parents were notified by British officials Thursday evening.

Separately, the Australian government said one of its nationals, David Hicks, was among the six.

Elizabeth Symons, the junior foreign minister, said on the BBC that the British government would "vigorously pursue the issues about access to lawyers, about standards of evidence and about any appeals procedure" with the United States.

Human rights activists and attorneys for the parents of the British detainees objected to the prospect of secret trials, with military lawyers appointed to defend the suspects and the possibility of the death penalty.

"At the end of the day, what we've got, to put it bluntly, is a kangaroo court with the rules of the game rigged so nothing like a fair trial can take place _ right down to American Army defense lawyers," said Stephen Jakobi, director of the British human rights group Fair Trials Abroad, which is representing Begg's father.

Louise Christian, an attorney for Abbasi's mother, said the Pentagon had thwarted Britain's diplomatic efforts to gain the release of the detainees or a fair trial. "We had hoped the British government could prevent them being put on trial in this way, but it appears (that Britain's) involvement with the United States amounts to absolutely nothing," Christian said. She said Britain should vigorously protest the U.S. decision and be prepared to appeal to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

The Australian government expressed hope that any proceedings involving Hicks would be just.

"The government welcomes this development as hopefully leading to a resolution of Mr. Hicks' case," said a joint statement Friday by Australian Attorney General Daryl Williams and Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer.

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