Australia abandons appropriation of book profits of former Guantanamo detainee

[JURIST] The Australian government has discontinued proceedings against former Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] detainee David Hicks [JURIST news archive] over the profits from his memoir. Australia's Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) [official website; press release] decided to halt the proceedings against Hicks, 36, commenced in July 2011 that were aimed at appropriating all profits from the autobiography. The book, Guantanamo, My Journey [publisher materials], chronicles Hicks's time at Guantanamo and the subsequent seven-month sentence he served in an Australian prison under a control order imposed by the country conditional to his release from US custody. The CDPP had sought to have the book profits, Aus$10,000 (USD $10,200) from the sale of 30,000 books, declared criminal proceeds seizable by the state [AFP report] under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, but was forced to abandon the action:

The evidence available to my Office was sufficient to commence those proceedings on the basis that Mr Hicks stood to benefit financially from the commercial exploitation of his notoriety resulting from the commission of a foreign indictable offense. ... Following commencement of the proceedings, Mr Hicks challenged the admissibility of the documents [recording his admissions to the US Military Commission], based upon the conditions and circumstances in which he made the relevant admissions. The challenge also relied upon the fact that Mr Hicks entered what is known in the [US] as an "Alford plea". This is a type of plea not recognised in Australia, whereby a defendant is able to acknowledge that the available evidence is sufficient to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt, without admitting commission of the offences charged.
In challenging the admissibility of the evidence Hicks served on the CDPP evidentiary material that had not been previously available [BBC report] to that office. Hicks' lawyers have argued that the Act does not apply to him because his conviction at Guantanamo is invalid.

In August 2011 the New South Wales Supreme Court [official website] froze all assets [Sydney Morning Herald report] arising out of the sale of Hicks's book. That same month Hicks filed an appeal [JURIST report] with the UN Human Rights Committee [official website] complaining of multiple violations of international law stemming from his five-year incarceration at Guantanamo from 2002 to 2007. In his petition Hicks asked the Australian government to "request the US authorities to formally overturn" his 2007 conviction on charges of aiding terrorism before a US military court and nullify the plea deal [JURIST reports] from which the conviction arose. Australian authorities removed the final restrictions against Hicks [JURIST report] in December 2008. Following his guilty plea Hicks was transferred to Australia in May 2007 to serve the remainder of his nine-month prison sentence at a maximum security prison near his hometown of Adelaide, South Australia, and was released [JURIST reports] in December 2007. The control order was relaxed [JURIST report] in February 2008, permitting Hicks to live anywhere in the country, and requiring him to check in with police only twice a week.

 

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