Hicks to tell, not sell, story

Mon Apr 9, 2007 3:48am EDT

SYDNEY, April 9 (Reuters) - Australian al-Qaeda supporter David Hicks is banned from selling his story about his time at Guantanamo Bay prison, but there was little to stop him from telling his tale, the Attorney-General said.

Australian law forbids individuals from profiting from stories about their criminal acts, but it was unlikely the United States could keep Hicks from speaking publicly about his treatment at Guantanamo Bay, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said on Sunday.

"If they (U.S) sought to involve us, it would presumably involve extradition law, and I don't think under our extradition law there would be a capacity to return him to the United States jurisdiction for that purpose," Ruddock told the television Nine Network in an interview.

"We would seek to ensure that he would not be able to profit from any story that he sought to tell." Hicks, the first war crimes convict among the hundreds of foreign captives held at the Guantanamo prison camp, is due to be sent back to Australia in weeks to serve nine months in jail and could be a free man by New Year's Day.

Under a plea agreement, Hicks is barred from speaking to the media for one year and requires him to give the Australian government any money received for the rights to his story.

Hicks, 31, who has spent five years at Guantanamo Bay, was sentenced by a U.S. military commission to seven years' jail after pleading guilty to supporting terrorism. He made the plea after reaching an agreement with U.S. military prosecutors.

However, the commission suspended six years and three months of the sentence, meaning Hicks will serve just nine months in an Australian prison.

He was captured in Afghanistan in December 2001, acknowledged that he trained with al Qaeda, fought against U.S. allies in Afghanistan in late 2001 for two hours, and then sold his gun to raise cab fare and tried to flee by taxi to Pakistan.

((Reporting by Fayen Wong; editing by Bill Tarrant; Reuters Messaging: fayen.wong.reuters.net@reuters.com; +612 9373 1819)) Keywords: AUSTRALIA HICKS/

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