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David Hicks has told his lawyer he will abide by the US-ordered ban on speaking to the media when he is released from jail in December. This is despite an acknowledgement by federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock that the restriction - part of the plea bargain that allowed Hicks to serve out the balance of his sentence in Australia - is probably unenforceable.

Hicks, 32, who was convicted by a US military court of supporting terrorism, was yesterday shown mug shots of persons of interest to Australian police when they interviewed him in jail in Adelaide.

But his lawyer, David McLeod, said Hicks had largely been unable to assist them.

The hour-long interview at the Yatala maximum-security prison was the first to be conducted with Hicks on Australian soil.

Mr McLeod described it as a "sweeping up exercise" ahead of Hicks's scheduled release from jail on December 29. "He was basically asked a series of questions and shown various images," said Mr McLeod, who sat in on the questioning.

"He was unable to assist in most of it, though his intention was to assist as best he could."

Mr McLeod said Hicks had told him he would honour the US-imposed ban on speaking immediately after his release, meaning Australians would not be able to hear his account of his time with Taliban forces in Afghanistan and his treatment by the Americans until March next year at the earliest.

While the Howard Government has warned Hicks it would intervene to prevent him from profiting from the sale of his story, Mr Ruddock has acknowledged that the US gag on non-paid media interviews probably could not be enforced in Australia.

But Mr McLeod said Hicks wanted to take no chances with breaching the conditions of his plea bargain with the US military, under which he returned home in May to serve out the balance of his sentence. Under the deal, clinched in March at the controversial detention centre in Guantanamo Bay where Hicks spent most of his five years in US custody, he agreed not to speak to the media for at least a year.


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