Memoir royalties of the 'Aussie Taliban' frozen

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The Independent Culture

Mark "Chopper" Read spent 23 years in jail for kidnapping, malicious wounding and assault. After his release, he published a series of books including a memoir entitled How to Shoot Friends and Influence People. His literary career has been lucrative.

David Hicks spent nearly six years in Guantanamo Bay, accused of terrorism-related offences which he says he was forced to plead guilty to. This year, Mr Hicks – nicknamed the "Aussie Taliban" by tabloids in his home country – wrote a book detailing his "six years of hell" in the US-run prison. The Australian government, which has never troubled Read, wants to seize his royalties as proceeds of crime. Yesterday, at the start of legal action brought by the Director of Public Prosecutions, the New South Wales Supreme Court froze a family trust fund containing the royalties. The case was then adjourned for a fortnight, to give both sides more time to gather evidence.

A former kangaroo shooter from Adelaide, Mr Hicks was captured in Afghanistan in late 2001 and handed over to US forces. In 2007, in a deal struck with a military commission, he pleaded guilty to providing "material support" for terrorism in exchange for being allowed to serve the remainder of his nine-month sentence in an Australian prison. His lawyers argue that his conviction was not legitimate, and they are also challenging the authority of the military commission system in Australia. A Muslim convert, Mr Hicks, who denies any involvement in terrorism, says he went to Afghanistan for basic military training. He claims to have been tortured at Guantanamo Bay.

About 30,000 copies of Guantanamo: My Journey have reportedly been sold, earning him A$10,000 (£6,560). According to his his father, Terry, Mr Hicks is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.