Australia would change law to bar Hicks profiting from Guantanamo story: AG

[JURIST] Australian Attorney-General Philip Ruddock [official profile] said Monday that the government would amend an existing federal law preventing convicted criminals from profiting from their offenses if it became apparent that it allowed Guantanamo detainee David Hicks to sell his story. Hicks is currently set to be returned to Australia [JURIST report] to serve out an additional prison term after a March plea agreement at trial before a US military commission. Responding to suggestions from legal experts [Australian report] that the existing Proceeds of Crime Act [text] had a loophole because it might not apply to offenses recognized only by US military commissions, Ruddock said that his own advisers did not take that view but if it were borne out, then the law would be revised. He added that the bar was itself civil, not criminal, overcoming concerns about retrospective imposition of a criminal penalty. He did, however, admit that even pursuant to a legal change Hicks could "talk and ask that any profits be given to his favourite charity - that probably isn't covered." The Australian has more.

Ruddock was speaking on Macquarie Radio the day before the May 1 publication of the first book on the Hicks case [pre-publication excerpt; UMP book website], written by Australian Broadcasting Corporation national security correspondent Leigh Sales. Hicks himself is subject to a gag order on speaking to the media under the terms of his plea agreement. Ruddock has indicated that that order may not be enforceable under Australian law [JURIST report] once he returns home, but a civilian lawyer for Hicks has said he has no intention of violating it [JURIST report] in any event.



 

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