Judge freezes ex-Gitmo detainee's book profits

AP News
Posted: Aug 02, 2011 11:55 PM
Judge freezes ex-Gitmo detainee's book profits

An Australian judge on Wednesday froze proceeds from a book written by a former Guantanamo Bay detainee as the government fights to seize profits from the memoir.

David Hicks, an ex-kangaroo skinner and Outback cowboy, was jailed at the U.S. prison camp in Cuba for more than five years before a plea deal in 2007 allowed him to return home to serve a nine-month prison sentence.

The government has launched court action against Hicks, arguing that he should not be allowed to profit from his autobiography, "Guantanamo: My Journey," because he is a convicted criminal.

New South Wales state Supreme Court Justice Peter Garling on Wednesday froze a trust fund holding proceeds from the book. The case was adjourned until Aug. 16.

Under Australian law, criminals can be sued for money that a federal court determines is proceeds from their crimes, including indirect profits from book or movie deals.

Whether the law applies to Hicks is unclear, since he pleaded guilty before a U.S. military commission, part of a justice system that has been widely criticized by lawyers and governments as unfair.

Hicks was captured in Afghanistan by the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance in late 2001. In his autobiography, he wrote that he had undergone military training in Afghanistan at a camp that al-Qaida's former leader Osama bin Laden visited, but denied it was terrorist training.

He wrote that he admitted to a charge of providing material support to al-Qaida so he could escape Cuba. He said his only options were to plead guilty to a crime he did not commit or commit suicide.

Hicks' publisher, Random House Australia, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how many copies the book has sold. Australian media outlets have estimated the figure at about 30,000.

Hicks was not in court Wednesday and his lawyers did not comment. Hicks' father said the court action has been stressful for his son, who he says is battling post-traumatic stress disorder.

"He's been suffering that for quite a while and he has been seeing people, trying to get through it," Terry Hicks said. "He's just taking one step at a time."