Well, I was right. It looks like a plea deal bargain has been struck, or at least is being offered:
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, said yesterday Mr Hicks could be home before this year's election - as long as his lawyers did not appeal against the military commission process...Hicks is 99.99% certain to be found guilty by the US Military's kangaroo court. But Downer says he'll be able to come home PROVIDED HE DOES NOT APPEAL AGAINST THE ILLEGAL, ILLEGITIMATE, IMMORAL PROCESS.
Mr Downer said Mr Hicks would be back in Australia, one way or another, before the election, as long as his trial proceeded quickly.
"It'll be possible to get Mr Hicks back to Australia by the end of the year, either to serve in a prison in Australia or, of course, just to be released, depending on the result of the trial," Mr Downer told the Nine Network.
Thus Hicks will come home to serve time as a self-confessed criminal ("the worst of the worst") and the US Military Tribunal system will also be justified.
Hicks earlier wrote a letter to PM Howard pleading to come home under any circumstances. This is the deal he is being offered. If YOU were his lawyer, would you advise him not to take it? If YOU had been in Gitmo for over five years, would YOU knock it back?
Here's an educational story from today's New York Times:
In the early hours of Jan. 6, Laith al-Ani stood in a jail near the Baghdad airport waiting to be released by the American military after two years and three months in captivity.David Hicks will no doubt be presented with a similar form, if and when he is ever moved aboard a flight back home to Australia.
Before Mr. Ani was released, American guards asked him to select a sentence to describe his treatment by his captors...
He was handed a form and asked to place a check mark next to the sentence that best described how he had been treated:
“I didn’t go through any abuse during detention,” read the first option, in Arabic.
“I have gone through abuse during detention,” read the second.
In the room, he said, stood three American guards carrying the type of electric stun devices that Mr. Ani and other detainees said had been used on them for infractions as minor as speaking out of turn.
“Even the translator told me to sign the first answer,” said Mr. Ani, who gave a copy of his form to The New York Times. “I asked him what happens if I sign the second one, and he raised his hands,” as if to say, Who knows?
“I thought if I don’t sign the first one I am not going to get out of this place.”
UPDATE: Elsewhere, responding to Costello's nonsensical hype about how Hicks could have killed Australians, John Quiggin makes a good point:
[I]f Hicks agreed to fight with the Taliban against a Coalition including Australia, as claimed in the charges against him, he’s guilty of treason.
[But] Hicks could not be convicted of treason because the evidence the American prosecutors plan to use (confessions extracted under torture, hearsay and so on) would be thrown out of an Australian court.