Press Council backs church official on unfair "traitor"

( [email protected] ) Nov 17, 2003 10:39 AM EST

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.