The United States has formally charged an Australian national held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba with providing material support for terrorism.

Filing the charges sets in motion a process for David Hicks to be tried by a U.S. military commission at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo.

Hicks has been detained at the facility since January 2002, one month after he was captured while allegedly fighting for the Taleban in Afghanistan.

He is the only Australian inmate at Guantanamo. His detention has become a political issue for Australian Prime Minister John Howard, a longtime supporter of President Bush's Iraq policy.

Lawyers for Hicks began court action in Australia on Monday in an attempt to bring him back to that country. They argued that the Australian government has failed to ensure a fair trial for their client.

U.S. prosecutors originally alleged Hicks committed attempted murder as well as provided material support for terrorism. Hicks has denied the charges.

Hicks is a Muslim convert and former kangaroo hunter.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.