SYDNEY, July 21 (Reuters Life!) - Australian prosecutors said on Thursday they had begun legal action to seize book profits from David Hicks, the only inmate at the U.S. Guantanamo Bay military prison inmate convicted of terrorism offences.
Hicks's book, "Guantanamo, My Journey", was published last year by Random House, and is based on his time at Guantanamo Bay on Cuba from 2001 until 2007.
Under Australian law, a person cannot gain commercial benefit from a crime, which can prevent criminals receiving payment for writing books about their offences.
A spokeswoman for the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions said Hicks had been served orders on Wednesday and that the case was set for August 3 in the New South Wales state Supreme Court.
Hicks's book has reportedly sold 30,000 copies, regarded as "solid" sales for a hardcover book in Australia. As a rule of thumb, an author can expect around 10 percent of sales, with Hick's book having a recommended price of A$49.95 ($47).
Hicks was captured in Afghanistan in late 2001 and spent five years in Guantanamo before pleading guilty to supporting terrorism and becoming the first person convicted by the war crimes tribunals created by the United States to try non-American captives.
Law professor Clive Williams said Australia's "Proceeds of Crime" law favours the prosecution, but Hicks may use the court case to publicly raise issues over his conviction.
"He may well raise issues going to the nature of his plea, whether duress was involved, whether it was a plea that should be recognised under the Australian legal system," Williams, from the University of New South Wales, told local radio.
"For David Hicks to defeat the claim, the attempt to seize those assets, he will have to raise questions that go to the heart of his conviction."
Hicks, a former kangaroo skinner, admitted training with al Qaeda and meeting its then-leader Osama bin Laden, whom he described as "lovely," according to police evidence given to the U.S. military court.
Hicks returned to Australia in 2007 as part of his guilty plea, which also included a one-year gag order.
Another Australian, Mamdouh Habib, was released from Guantanamo without charge in 2005.
Australia, a close U.S. ally, was an original member of the U.S.-led coalition that invaded Iraq in 2003 and Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001 airliner attacks in the United States. (Reporting by Michael Perry; Editing by Ron Popeski)