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Australian Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks says he's not a monster and had not even heard of al-Qaeda until he was interrogated at the prison camp.
Mr Hicks made his first public appearance at the Sydney Writer's Festival on Sunday talking about his book Guantanamo: My Journey.
The autobiography recounts his early years growing up in Adelaide, his conversion to Islam to gain a sense of belonging and his travels to Kosovo and Kashmir to help suffering civilians.
"(Afghanistan) is such a small part of my story and yet you get the impression from the media that it was the only part of the story," Mr Hicks told a packed Sydney Theatre crowd.
"I went to Afghanistan to receive basic military training. I have no problem saying that because that's what happened.
"I had never heard of the word al-Qaeda until I heard it from the lips of an interrogator in Guantanamo Bay years later.
"There weren't al-Qaeda training camps where I was. It's all about Kashmir, my story. It's not about Afghanistan."
Hicks spent more than five years in the American prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba after being captured in Afghanistan in 2001.
He said he constantly suffered bouts of anger, depression and insanity during his time in the prison camp where he said he was tortured, and seriously considered suicide towards the end of his time there.
"I've been presented as some monster out to cause harm. (The prime minister) John Howard has said publicly that I've never broken any Australian law," he said.
"This has been acknowledged, I never hurt anyone, I never intended to hurt anyone, I never planned to hurt anyone.
"I condemn terror. I went overseas with the intention to help people, to do something.
"Some people may think that it's a bit weird, a bit strange, impulsive, naive. Okay, but my intentions were good and, unfortunately, I ended up being detained, tortured and accused of being a terrorist."
He said the picture of him shown in the media over the years holding a rocket-propelled grenade in what has been reported to be Afghanistan was nothing but a "boy's trophy shot" taken years earlier in Albania.
Mr Hicks and his father Terry, his long-time supporter, both received standing ovations during the talk.
He said he spent two years writing his book without any help and had married since returning to Australia.
But, he said, he was still receiving treatment for physical and psychological problems.
"There's been great, wonderful support from the public in general concerning the book and my situation."
The Director of Public Prosecutions is expected to make a decision soon on whether profits from his book will be seized under the proceeds of crime legislation.
Hicks became the first person to be tried and convicted under the United States' Military Commissions Act of 2006. There was widespread Australian and international criticism and political controversy over Hicks' treatment, the evidence tendered against him, his trial outcome, and the newly created legal system under which he was prosecuted.
Charges were first filed against Hicks in 2004 under a military commission system newly created by Presidential Order. Those proceedings failed in 2006 when the Supreme Court of the United States ruled, in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, that the military commission system was unconstitutional. The military commission system was re-established by an act of the United States Congress. Revised charges were filed against Hicks in February 2007 before a new commission under the new act. The following month, in accordance with a pre-trial agreement struck with convening authority Judge Susan J. Crawford, Hicks entered an Alford plea to a single newly codified charge of providing material support for terrorism. Hicks's legal team attributed his acceptance of the plea bargain to his "desperation for release from Guantanamo".
In April 2007, Hicks was returned to Australia to serve the remaining nine months of a suspended seven-year sentence. During this period, Hicks was precluded from all media contact and there was criticism for delaying his release until after the 2007 Australian election. Former Pentagon chief prosecutor Colonel Morris Davis later alleged political interference in the case by the Bush administration in the United States and the Howard government in Australia. He also said that Hicks should not have been prosecuted. Hicks served his term in Adelaide's Yatala Labour Prison and was released under a control order on 29 December 2007.