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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 January, 2005, 11:01 GMT
Australia against Habib cashing in
Mamdouh Habib, undated photo
Mr Habib is due back in Australia in the next few weeks
Australia's government is checking if it can stop one of its citizens held by the US in Guantanamo Bay from making money from his story when he is freed.

Mamdouh Habib, who was accused of training with terror groups, is due to be released from the US camp in Cuba in the next couple of weeks.

He is being released without charge but Canberra said Mr Habib may be affected by laws targeting proceeds from crime.

Mr Habib, who was born in Egypt, had lived in Australia since 1980.

The Australian government is taking legal advice over whether new laws, which bar anyone linked to a crime from making money from their story, applied to Mr Habib, a spokesman for Attorney General Philip Ruddock said.

"We will examine closely the implications and if there is an obligation under law it will be pursued," said Steve Ingram.

But the Premier of Victoria state, Steve Bracks, said any move to block payments to the 48-year-old Sydney taxi driver would be unusual, given that he had not been charged.

"Mr Habib has not been convicted. He is not up on charges, he is not pending charges, and to suppress the capacity of someone to tell a story when there is no conviction present would be a very unusual step and probably without precedent in Australia," he said.

No apology

Mr Habib was arrested while in Pakistan, three weeks after the 11 September 2001 terror attacks on the US.

The US alleged Mr Habib knew in advance of the attacks and had trained some of the hijackers in martial arts.

Mr Habib's lawyers claimed the confessions were obtained under coercion.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has already said Mr Habib would not receive an apology or compensation from his government.

The Australian government always indicated that it was happy for the US to handle the cases of Mr Habib and David Hicks, the only other Australian detainee in Camp Delta.

BBC's Phil Mercer in Sydney says that Mr Habib is likely to be closely monitored by Australia's intelligence services on his return home.

In a court affidavit, Mr Habib has also claimed he was tortured in Egypt with beatings, electric shocks and was nearly drowned in late 2001 before being sent to Guantanamo. Lawyer Stephen Hopper alleged the US had Mr Habib sent to Egypt in the knowledge that he would be tortured.

The US has denied prisoner abuse allegations and the state department has said it believes Guantanamo detainees were treated humanely.

Mr Hicks, 29, is due to face criminal charges by a US commission in March.

He has pleaded not guilty to aiding the enemy, attempted murder and conspiracy to commit war crimes.


SEE ALSO:
Howard: No apology for Habib
12 Jan 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Australia's Hicks 'losing sanity'
02 Nov 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Terror suspect pleads not guilty
25 Aug 04 |  Americas
Guantanamo Australians face trial
03 Mar 04 |  Asia-Pacific
The 'Australian Taleban'
10 Jun 04 |  Asia-Pacific


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