In the slow news days between Xmas and New Year, conspicuously timed to be AFTER the recent Federal Election, David Hicks was freed today .
David Hicks should never be remembered as an "innocent man", but it needs to be held up for the public record that David Hicks spent 5 1/2 years in jail without being charged or convicted. What got his freedom was that he came to an arrangement with the US and Australian governments and was allowed to be repatriated and held in incarceration until after the election.
You can tell this by the way the media have been labelling him these past few days. Words like "terrorist supporter" or "friend of Osama Bin Laden" are used... not "convicted terrorist" or out and out "terrorist" nor "prisoner of war" nor any other term that may be legitimately labelled against a man convicted of crime.
Instead we get this media dance and use of flowery language that tries to portray him as evil yet he is in reality an innocent man. (Remember, we're all innocent until proven guilty!).
Yes, David Hicks is a man who was perhaps misguided, stupid, money hungry or a little of all three. Yes, he was captured during a gun battle with US soldiers in Afghanistan (you remember, the place BEFORE Iraq). But other than being an active participant in a war, what has he done wrong? And if he has done something criminal, why wasnt he charged and found guilty.
So, now we have what can be best described as a man who would be suffering from the side effects of the brutal torture in Guantanamo Bay and he will be pursued and lured with media money. He cannot before 1 March talk to the press as part of his deal and he must report to a police station 3 times a week... why, who knows...
The media, particularly Terry Willesee on SkyNews, seemed indignant that he didnt apologise in his written statement. Why should he apologise? I did note in his statement he thanked alot of people, but I think those that he didn't thank stood out more than anything else. No thanks for Mr Howard or Mr Downer who assured us for the past 5 years that they were doing "all that they can" to get Hicks released. No thanks for his US Military legal advisor's - Major Mori - who seemed to be a bumbling fool rather than a competent lawyer and was after all a paid member of the prosecution being the US Army.
So, in short, we wont be seeing the Hicks case disappear in the short term. The media circus as 1 March approaches will be huge. Hicks' pleas for peace and quiet from the media will fall on deaf ears and he will have trouble adjusting to an Australian society that is very different from when he would have left Australia...
All I can say is good luck!