Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Torture victims to get Hicks prize money

Torture victims to get Hicks prize money | Aug 24th 2011 9:45 PM
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Former Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks says that if he wins a Queensland Premier's Literary Prize, he will donate the money to torture victims.

"If I win this award, every cent will go to victims of torture," he said in a short statement on Ten Network on Wednesday.

Mr Hicks would not agree to be interviewed and simply added: "I have never been a supporter of terrorism. I had no choice but to sign a piece of paper to get out of Guantanamo Bay."

His comments come after his book, Guantanamo: My Journey, was shortlisted in the non-fiction category earlier this month.

The tell-all book, which covers his detention at the US-run jail between 2001 and 2007, could potentially see him take home $15,000 if he wins an award.

Queensland's opposition arts spokesman Scott Emerson has criticised the selection of the book, saying there was a chance the Premier's prize could become part of future legal action.

"Some people would seriously question whether a book by someone convicted of supporting terrorism should have been shortlisted," he said in a statement.

The 36-year-old's book has sold about 30,000 copies and is believed to have generated about $10,000.

Earlier this month, the NSW Supreme Court froze profits from the book under proceeds of crime laws.

But Mr Hicks' legal team argues that the law does not apply because his conviction by a US military commission at Guantanamo Bay was invalid.

A hearing into the matter has been adjourned until August 26.

Adelaide-born Mr Hicks was 26 when he was captured by the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance in Afghanistan in late 2001.

It was believed he was fighting for Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network at the time.

Mr Hicks was held in the US-run jail in Cuba until 2007, when he pleaded guilty to providing material support for terrorism and was sent to Adelaide's Yatala Prison to serve the rest of his seven-year sentence.

He was released under a control order later that year.

The winner of the book award will be announced on September 6.


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