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Press Council backs church official on unfair "traitor" headline

Senior church official Dr Michael Costigan has had his complaint about use of the word "traitor" in media coverage of Australian Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks upheld by the Press Council.

Dr Costigan is Executive Secretary of the Bishops Committee for Justice, Development, Ecology and Peace. He compained to the Australian Press Council about the Sydney Sunday Telegraph's use of the word "traitor" in headlines for two reports on Hicks published earlier this year.

He argued in his submission that the use of the word in the headlines was an unsubstantiated judgment that David Hicks could reasonably be called a traitor. Hicks has been neither charged nor gone to trial.

Dr Costigan said that the use of the word amounted to "riding roughshod over his basic human rights", meaning the right to the presumption of innocence.

The Press Council's ruling included a requirement for publication of the judgment in the Sunday Telegraph last Sunday. But Dr Costigan told CathNews that the notice failed to appear in the paper.

Bishops Committee for Justice, Development, Ecology and Peace

Press Council Adjudication: Page 1 | Page 2
Bishops Committee for Justice Development and Peace
Australian Press Council
Bishop says Govt can do more for Hicks and Habib (13/11/03)
Fair Go for David | Media Coverage Analysis
David Hicks: Human Rights on Trial (ABC Radio Background Briefing 13/7/03)

14 Nov 2003