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Australia to sue ex-Guantanamo detainee for book royalties

The Australian government announced Thursday that it will sue former Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee David Hicks [JURIST news archive] for royalties from his memoir. Hicks spent more than five years without trial in US custody after being captured in Afghanistan following the terror attacks of 9/11 [JURIST backgrounder]. He wrote an autobiography last year entitled "Guantanamo: My Journey," describing his tenure as a detainee. The Australian Director of Public Prosecutions [official website] applied for a restraining order [AFP reporter] and an order to obtain the book's profits, claiming the profits constitute proceeds of a crime. Pursuant to Australian proceeds of crime law amendments tailored specifically to the Hicks case [JURIST report], the ex-detainee is not permitted to profit from his book. Hicks pleaded guilty to a charge of providing material support [JURIST reports] to terrorists at an appearance before a US military commission in March 2007 and was sentenced to nine months in prison. He was then transferred [JURIST report] to a maximum security prison near his hometown of Adelaide, South Australia to serve the remainder of his nine-month prison sentence.

Under the plea agreement, Hicks was required to state that he "has never been illegally treated" while being held as an enemy combatant by the US and that his detention was lawful pursuant to the laws of armed conflict. Hicks was also prohibited from having contact with the media for a period of one year, ordered not take any legal action against the United States for his treatment during his five-year detention, and required to turn over any profits from an eventual sale of his story to the Australian government. Hicks' detention and trial have been heavily criticized, with the Law Council of Australia, for example, calling Hicks' trial a "charade" [JURIST report]. JURIST Special Guest Columnist and former Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser argued that Hicks' trial before a US military commission demonstrated the disturbing willingness of two allegedly democratic governments to abandon the rule of law for an expedient and evil purpose in his op-ed entitled "The US, Australia and David Hicks: Abandoning the Rule of Law."

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