Australia goes after book proceeds

July 21, 2011 at 7:27 AM
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CANBERRA, Australia, July 21 (UPI) -- Australia's public prosecutor wants to capture the proceeds of a book written by a citizen who spent more than five years imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay.

The prosecutor wants to recover the proceeds of the sale of "Guantanamo: My Journey" by Australian David Hicks, an Islamic convert who trained with the Kosovo Liberation Army, the Financial Times reported.

Hicks, arrested shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, was transferred to Guantanamo Bay after he signed a pre-trial agreement that he provided "material support for terrorism." He was convicted of helping terrorists by a U.S. military commission.

The Australian said the case would be heard next month under Australia's Proceeds of Crime Act, which lets the government take the proceeds from the "commercial exploitation of the notoriety gained from committing an indictable offense."

"It could open up questions about what happened at Guantanamo Bay and whether that ought to be recognized and given legal weight by other democracies," said George Williams, constitutional law expert at the University of New South Wales.

Williams said the case against Hicks has international significance.

Australian Attorney General Robert McClellan declined to comment on the specifics of the case while the matter is before the court.

"The director of public prosecutions has made that decision to seek recovery, completely independent of government," McClellan said. "I don't think it's appropriate that I seek to influence the court one way or the other."

The book has sold about 30,000 copies. Hicks has refused to comment on the matter.

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