Defending the right of David Hicks to live as a normal citizen

As Australian authorities attempt to pursue former Guantanamo Bay prisoner David Hicks – tortured, held illegally and still pursued by leeches who love the authoritarian impulse of US foreign policy – a number of Australians, including me, are speaking out. Thanks to Overland journal for organising this:

On 20 July 2011, the Australian government served David Hicks with a notice of their intent to restrain any funds obtained from the sale of his book, Guantanamo: My Journey, under the Commonwealth Proceeds of Crime Act.

After Hicks was captured in Afghanistan and sold to the US by the Northern Alliance, he spent six years in Guantanamo Bay without trial or charges. He alleges that, during his detention, he was tortured. He spent much of his captivity in 24-hour solitary detention.

Hicks was eventually brought before a military commission, in a procedure condemned by lawyers and human rights groups everywhere. With no other way to get home, he accepted a deal, under which, in return for pleading guilty, he served a short sentence in Australia.

The arrangement was widely acknowledged as a political resolution to a case that was causing increasing embarrassment to both the US and Australian governments. Obviously, Hicks would never have been released had the Americans thought he represented the slightest threat.

Many Australians regard the treatment of David Hicks as an international outrage. What took place – what continues to take place – in Guantanamo Bay deserves more publicity, not less. If the government thinks it has done nothing wrong, it has nothing to fear from a full discussion of the Hicks case.

The move against Hicks’ memoirs should concern everyone. But it is of particular relevance to writers and publishers, precisely because of the direct interference into publications with which the government politically disagrees. How can Australian publishers feel safe publishing material that is controversial knowing that the Australian government is willing to use laws to financially penalise perceived opponents? Fundamentally, this is an issue of political censorship.

As lawyer Elizabeth O’Shea put it, ”˜Anyone who believes in the right to a fair trial and freedom from torture should defend Hicks.’ The government’s application is to be heard 3 August in NSW. We’re asking those in the publishing industry to sign this petition (leave your name below or send us an email) because this action has alarming political and financial implications for writers and publishers everywhere.


Jacinda Woodhead – writer and editor
Dr Jeff Sparrow – writer and editor
Elizabeth O’Shea – lawyer
Dr Rjurik Davidson – writer and editor
Rodney Hall – author
James Bradley – novelist and critic
Julian Burnside AO QC
Sophie Cunningham – writer and editor
Dr Peter Minter – writer and editor
Alison Croggon – poet, critic and novelist
Professor Wendy Bacon – the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism, UTS
The Hon Alastair Nicholson AO RFD QC
Mary Kostakidis – broadcaster and journalist
Emmett Stinson – lecturer in publishing and communications
Jo Case – writer and editor
Zoe Dattner – publisher
Professor Chris Nash – Monash University
John Marnell – editor
Adam Ford – writer and editor
Antony Loewenstein – journalist
John Martinkus – academic and journalist, University of Tasmania
Christos Tsiolkas – writer
Emily Maguire – writer
Kate Eltham – writer, publisher and arts manager
Clare Strahan – writer and editor
Joshua Mostafa – writer
Tim Coronel – publisher, editor and journalist
Greg Black
Roselina Press – writer and editor
Mark Davis – writer and academic

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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