This is the shock-horror story about the confessed terrorist who has agreed not to speak to the media for a year.

The Left are up in arms about the “gag agreement” for their returning hero, David Hicks. They are on the attack. As usual it is all the fault of John Howard and his mates — this time A-G Ruddock.

The truth is that any Australian Government would not have interfered, one way or another, with the details of the plea deal. What does the Left expect? Should Ruddock refuse to let Hicks back into Australia unless and until the offending gag is removed? Should the plea deal be renegotiated?

In the beginning, the Left accused Hicks’ defence counsel Major Mori of being a US stooge. Since then, Mori has demonstrated what good lawyers do best — their ability to fight for the client. Mori was in Australia recently and was treated as a hero by the Left. But I suspect that they will now say he was, after all,  a stooge who has sold out Hicks.

What happened in this plea is no different (in principle) to any other criminal case (in the US). Hicks and Mori knew the evidence that was to be relied upon. They assessed Hicks’ prospects. They decided to do a deal. All the terms of the deal were negotiated by Mori. The net result of nine months was a dream result. The short-term gag really doesn’t matter.

In any event, any breach by Hicks of the gag or any of the other agreed terms of the deal are not enforceable once Hicks is out of US control. A breach could only be enforced if Hicks returned to US jurisdiction. As he is a confessed and convicted terrorist, he would be unwise to do so — and a long-term control order will limit his movement.

In the result, once Hicks returns to Australia, he can breach the gag or any other conditions of the plea agreement with impunity. The agreement is unenforceable. Hicks’ lawyers will tell him that.

Hicks’ story is potentially worth millions of dollars. I have no doubt that he will easily be able to avoid the Australian laws and profit by this venture. If he is well advised, he can get the millions tax free. This will certainly happen — and I wonder if the Left will support it? It’s a great picture — Hicks the terrorist millionaire.

So, as usual, it is a big fuss about nothing. And I am still waiting for the Left to condemn Hicks for being a terrorist and a traitor. Some chance.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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