Ex-Gitmo detainee told book funds may be seized

July 20, 2011 - 12:44 PM

SYDNEY (AP) — Australia told a former detainee at the U.S. prison camp in Cuba on Wednesday that it may seize any profits from his autobiography, a report said.

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.

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 U.S. military commission, part of a justice system that has been widely criticized by lawyers and governments as unfair.

In his book "Guantanamo: My Journey," released last year, Hicks wrote that he only admitted to a charge of providing material support to al-Qaida 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 organization," he wrote.

The Australian newspaper reported that the restraining order served Wednesday will be heard in a New South Wales court on Aug. 3.

Hicks could not be reached for comment, but his father criticized the action.

"He's a person who signed a piece of paper to get out of a hellhole," The Australian quoted him as saying. "I think it's the most disgusting thing."

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 U.S. plea deal.

Hicks was captured in Afghanistan by the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance in late 2001.

He wrote that he had undergone military training in Afghanistan at a camp that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden visited, but denied it amounted to terrorist training.

The Australian reported his book has sold about 30,000 copies.