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Media Watch -

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(generated from captions) Laden wanting an Australian. He

also cooperated in six

interrogations by ASIO. After two

months in detention, the Federal

Police asked Thomas to do a formal

record of interview. Under

Australian law they were obliged to

offer him access to a lawyer. They

told him he was entitled to one,

that none would be available. told him he was entitled to one, but

I want

The Federal Police knew they were

shaky legal ground, the Pakistanis The Federal Police knew they were on

would not provide a lawyer but the

police went ahead anyway. After

praying for guidance Thomas agreed

once again to cooperate. So you

agreed to a formal record of

interview? I agreed to a lie

detector test, anything, just don't

torture me. I agree, because I

no choice, nothing is of my own torture me. I agree, because I have

will. I'm in indeaf knit detention. no choice, nothing is of my own free

You've got Australians sitting

there, grab them. That's the only

thing I could think of. Do

they would so that I can get home. thing I could think of. Do whatever

In a 80-minute taped interview

Thomas recounted in detail his

activities over the past two years.

It was this interview that provided

the sole evidence on which he was

offences. later charged with terrorism

Did you realise that you could

incriminate yourself that you were

incriminating yourself by doing

this? I didn't feel that I'd

committed any crimes apart from

changing my passport, so all I

wanted to do was get home. In June

2003 Jack Thomas was finally

released by the Pakistani

authorities and flown home to

Australia. He has been exonerated

and indeed on his return to

Melbourne he's at large now. He's

not curtailed in his liberty at all.

So there's certainly no evidence

suggest that he's a terrorist. So there's certainly no evidence to

For the next year and a half,

and his family resumed a relatively For the next year and a half, Thomas

normal life. They bought a house

the outskirts of Melbourne. Thomas normal life. They bought a house on

worked at a fruit market, drove

taxis and then set up a catering

company at home. This is not a

commercial kitchen. The flame's so

high. The flames were bloody high

the other day . All over the wall.

They hoped their ordeal was over

until November 2004 when ASIO and

the Federal Police finally moved.

We were driving out of the drive,

just hit the gutter and all of a We were driving out of the drive, we

sudden we were aware of cars

screeching up behind us and people

running towards us. We were being

raided as well. Australian Federal

Police swooped on this House

south-west of Melbourne early this

morning. They arrested 31-year-old

Joseph Jack Thomas. 17 months after

returning to Australia Thomas faced

court charged with receiving funds

from and receiving resources from

al-Qai'da that would assist in a

terrorist act. I'm an Australian

five generations. I'm a Muslim,

my whole family is here. How could five generations. I'm a Muslim, but

I possibly think of ever doing

anything to this country or its

people. It's not a possibility,

it's not going to happen, no matter

what.

There he is, changing the nappy now.

On January 30 this year, the Thomas

family was up soon after dawn.

was to be a momentous day, in more family was up soon after dawn. This

ways than one. It was Thomas's

daughter Amatullah first day at

school. Darling Amatullah, I think

you can turn that off darling and

we've got to go. There was a new

family member to be packed into the

car, a baby boy born in December.

After the school run it was home

again to prepare for the other

event of the day. again to prepare for the other major

At his mother's insistence Thomas

had already shaved off his beard in

readiness for day one of his

long-awaited trial. What do you

think the verdict will be? Like I

said mate, not guilty. Are you

confident about that? Yes. Yes.

Why are you so sure about that?

'Cause I'm not. Doesn't matter

they say, still not guilty. Are you 'Cause I'm not. Doesn't matter what

prepared for the worst? I think you

have to be, yes. And what would the

worst be? Having to go away again

from my family. Yeah, that's the

worst bit, isn't it? Thomas's trial

lasted only a few days, there was

little evidence. The defence lasted only a few days, there was so

it a trophy trial. On Sunday, the little evidence. The defence called

jury returned its verdict. In a

blow to the prosecution, Thomas was

found not guilty on the two major

charges of providing resources that

would assist in a terrorist act.

the two other charges he was found would assist in a terrorist act. On

guilty of travelling on a falsified

passport and receiving funds from

al-Qai'da - an offence punishable

up to 25 years in jail. Thomas al-Qai'da - an offence punishable by

face sentencing later this week. up to 25 years in jail. Thomas will

Jack is leaving very, very soon. International Pty Ltd Captioning and Subtitling Closed Captions produced by This program is captioned live.

Jana, we just have to ask you, going? how are you and Tamsyn comment on that one Oh, you promised you wouldn't so, no, there's nothing to it now. your differences? Have you sorted out Yes. bunking together Oh, good, so you're going to be at the Commonwealth Games village? Oh, ask the other guys. Alright, we'll take that hint. Well, we can't ask Chantelle. I think we will.

annoyed at being put on the spot Athlete Jana Pittman, with fellow runner Tamsyn Lewis. over her unseemly dispute

Hello and welcome to Media Watch. I'm Monica Attard. had been front-page news Jana's fight with Tamsyn that interview. in the week before the 'Today' show So we can understand wanting to ask those questions. But this is what caught our eye. by Channel Nine, Pittman is sponsored the tough questions. so maybe she thought they'd avoid We're glad they didn't.

is sometimes illuminating. Asking unwelcome questions has ground rules. But every interview understanding, Sometimes it's a tacit other times an explicit agreement subjects are off limits. that certain can run into problems. And that's where journalists heart-rending documentary 'Australian Story's of Scott Rush and his family on the plight 20-year-old was sentenced to life went to air on the day the drug mule. for his role as a Bali Nine Mr and Mrs Average Suburbia. We're pretty ordinary with Telstra for 30 years. I'm a teacher and Lee has been through our kids We've tried not to live our dreams and encourage whatever, one would never want this. but of course that there were "legal constraints" The program's introduction warned that prevented discussion of "some issues" but no explanation of what the legal constraints were, though the family hinted at Scott's troubled past. Scott, in the past, has certainly been involved in some misdemeanours. These were minor incidents. The things that concern me - the extra activities at night, dropping off in his studies, the extra sleeping-in in the mornings. It was a gut feeling more than anything, but probably what I had seen over the last few months of Scott's change in personality that, possibly, there was some link with drugs. But the morning after that went to air, the 'Courier-Mail' had more. The paper detailed what it called Rush's "dark past", a series of minor crimes, only one of which involved drugs. But some viewers of 'Australian Story' felt duped and said as much on the program's Internet guest book.

But it wasn't inadequate research. Executive Producer Deb Fleming said 'Australian Story' knew about Scott Rush's criminal record. 'Courier-Mail' editor David Fagan took a very different view. Despite the fact that, as Deb Fleming says,

Scott Rush's criminal record "was reasonably common knowledge amongst reporters in Bali" the story hadn't come out during the course of the trial. Why not?

Well, for a start, many editors tell us they didn't know about it. Editors and news directors at SBS, channels Seven, Nine and Ten, and the 'Sydney Morning Herald' say

they weren't aware of Rush's convictions

until the story broke in the 'Courier-Mail'. All - except SBS - say that they regard the convictions as a relevant part of the story. So why didn't reporters in Bali give the story to their editors? It reminds us of the pattern 'Media Watch' reported in last year's trial of Schapelle Corby. Given Indonesia's unduly harsh penalties, we do accept there's been a proper caution about reporting material adverse to Corby, especially before the verdict. Journalists told Media Watch about their concerns on condition of anonymity.

Reporters covering the Rush case tell us that although they weren't obliged to, they followed the legal requirements that apply to the Australian media for Australian trials. Essentially they were censoring themselves. And the director of ABC News and Current Affairs, John Cameron, endorses the view that the convictions shouldn't have been published until after the appeals. The 'Bulletin's Paul Toohey weighed up that same ethical consideration. He knew the facts and didn't publish. But now he says he's had second thoughts. And that's the point that's angered 'Australian Story's critics in the audience and the media. They think the program went soft on Scott Rush in part to get the family on board. Paul Toohey put it this way. It's a claim that's been made before -

that embattled interviewees go on 'Australian Story' because they're given the chance to tell their own story in their own words instead of exposing themselves to probing and persistent questioning. Lee Rush denies any explicit agreement with 'Australian Story'

to leave out the convictions, and executive producer Deb Fleming says the program's decision was not part of any deal. There's no doubt that some interviewees caught in the spotlight of controversy think 'Australian Story' will cast a gentler light on their stories. But at the end of the day, 'Australian Story's decision to suppress the convictions hasn't done Scott Rush any favours. The information came out anyway and the point that the Rush family wanted to stress - that the AFP obstructed the family's effort to help their son -

has now been buried beneath criticism of 'Australian Story's decision. In fact, the AFP couldn't have hoped for a better outcome. Now, let's move back to Australia, and other media in real legal trouble reporting Australian criminal cases. So far so good. But in the next paragraph of the 'Age's front-page story,

the paper lists the previous court appearances of the accused - and that's not on in Australian trials because it can prejudice the jury. Towle's lawyers tell us that they're worried that their client might not get a fair trial and that the 'Age' story is "a grave concern". Then there's this one - the murder of Mario Condello. Money and murder, the deadly Melbourne cocktail. Shot on Monday evening before his trial, underworld figure Mario Condello will be buried on Friday, never knowing who'd received $1 million for informing on him, and which gangland boss feared what he'd say. One theory being pursued by Purana task force investigators is that the hit that claimed Mr Condello's life was ordered... Now we've got to stop there because reporter Peter Morris goes on to drop a big hint about who might have ordered the hit.

This front-page story in the 'Herald-Sun' went even further and named an alleged suspect. The result? An important criminal trial due to start this month has now been postponed. This edition of the 'Australian' had a similar effect on a different trial. The paper reported: As you can see, the story made that defendant and his lawyer sound like gangsters so that trial has been deferred until late November. And the judge asked for summonses to be issued against the paper and the journalists for contempt.

He called it: The 'Australian' has offered to plead guilty and told the court that the two by-lined journalists were not responsible for those offending paragraphs. Noew in this next media stumble we can't show you the article at all. Suffice to say that a feature article in a Fairfax newspaper led to an application for a major criminal trial to be aborted. The article contained sloppy mistakes alongside supposed facts that were never part of the evidence presented to the jury. The judge, whom we can't name, had this to say:

Once again, the court will consider contempt proceedings. It's inevitable that journalists decide what goes in a story and what stays out, whose secrets to tell and whose to keep. Sometimes they have the law to guide them, sometimes only their own conscience or ethics. They don't always get it right. See you next week! Captions by Captioning and Subtitling International. This program is captioned live. Good evening. The former head of AWB has denied any knowledge of corrupt payments to Saddam Hussein's regime. Trevor Flugge told the Cole inquiry that he knew that transport fees were paid, but he didn't know they were bribes. The range of books available in your local library is about to expand dramatically. The National Library is linking 800 libraries across the country. The service gives users access to around 40 million items via the Internet. And the former captain of the AFL's West Coast Eagles, Ben Cousins, has been charged by police over a driving incident. Cousins allegedly abandoned his car near a police breathalyser unit this month. Tomorrow's national weather. Thunderstorms for Darwin and Perth, showers in Brisbane, Hobart, and Sydney,

but fine in the other capitals.

'Lateline' is along at around 10:40pm. Goodnight.