Ex-Gitmo detainee told book funds may be seized
Sydney: Australia has told a former detainee at the US prison camp in Cuba that it may seize any profits from his autobiography, a Cabinet minister said on Thursday.
David Hicks, an ex-kangaroo skinner and Outback cowboy, was jailed at Guantanamo Bay more than five years before a plea deal in 2007 let him return home to serve a nine-month prison sentence.
Home Affairs Minister Brendan O`Connor said Hicks was served a restraining order on Wednesday. The case will be heard in a New South Wales court on August 03.
"I know (the public prosecutor) has been considering this matter for some time, ever since the announcement by Mr Hicks of the writing of an autobiography," O`Connor told ABC Radio.
Under Australian law, criminals can be sued for money that a federal court determines is proceeds from their crimes, including indirect profits from book and movie deals.
It is unclear whether the law applies to Hicks, since he pleaded guilty before a US military commission, part of a justice system that has been widely criticised by lawyers and governments as unfair.
"David Hicks has not been convicted of a crime in Australia," human rights campaigner John Dowd said. "He has not been convicted of an offense under United States law. There is no basis for removing any profits from the sale of his book."
In his book `Guantanamo: My Journey`, released last year, Hicks wrote that he only admitted to a charge of providing material support to al Qaeda to escape Cuba. He said his only options were to plead guilty to a crime he did not commit or to kill himself.
"To plead guilty was really saying that the system was unfair and I could never win, not that I ever provided support to a terrorist organisation," he wrote.
Hicks wrote that he had agreed to give up any profits he made from his story but that he believed subsequent changes to the military commissions nullified any agreements he made as part of his US plea deal.
Hicks was captured in Afghanistan by the US-backed Northern Alliance in late 2001.
He wrote that he had undergone military training in Afghanistan at a camp that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden visited, but denied it amounted to terrorist training.
The Australian newspaper reported his book has sold about 30,000 copies.
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