This article belongs to Australia - Land of the Free? column.

Now that the hearings for David Hicks have been decided, he will soon be leaving Guantanamo Bay to serve out his sentence in South Australia. Does that mean he will live happily ever after?


His first obstacle is to get out of the clutches of the Americans and on a plane to Australia. Perhaps that is not going to be as easy as has been made out. Already there have been delays in his move attributed to paperwork and arranging the right processes. It would be very easy to string these out so he spends the rest of his term in Guantanamo.


Let us imagine he does come home to Adelaide and Yatala prison. It appears he is likely to spend most of his term in solitary confinement for his own protection. One wonders how well Yatala is set up to take such a high profile prisoner. It is easy to say he will be accommodated but the devil is in the details.


It will be important for Hicks to be prepared for his release with access to books and educational facilities, otherwise he may not cope when he is released. Visitors will have to be screened to ensure the media don't try to cash in on his notoriety. We can only hope he is kept away from the hardened criminals in prison for his own good.


Terry Hicks, David's father has stated in the press that he will take his son away for a few weeks when he is released from prison so he can acclimatise and get ready to face the outside world. The father of the mother of Hick's children has also spoken to the press and stated that Hicks would not be allowed to see his children because he abandoned them. It appears some negotiation will have to take place before David Hicks will be able to fulfill one of his wishes and see his kids.


For a man that struggled to cope with society before he went away and now after all his troubles and imprisonment it doesn't bode well for him to settle back into a normal suburban life. He worked in menial jobs, like chicken filleting, so we can only speculate on what he will do to earn money.


Because of his limited employment options he will be forced to tell his story. What a story it is joining Islamic forces and his imprisonment and the torture and incarceration at Guantanamo Bay? It is also the story of incompetent Governments with their failure to understand how to treat prisoners of war in the new combat rules with small organisations that means conflicts go on for decades.


What roll will the State Police, ASIO, ASIS, the Federal Police, and maybe even the CIA play in his life? They are certain to watch him and maybe re arrest him on some charge like they did with Jihad Jack.


Hicks said he no longer follows the Islamic religion. So it will be interesting to see how he copes with life without the strict rules of Islam. Perhaps he will be able to cope with his newfound financial stability from book sales, movie, TV rights and other opportunities his notoriety will bring.


Another aspect of his rehabilitation will be how his personality comes across when he is interviewed on radio and TV. If he is likeable and convincing it may be he can turn himself from enemy into a hero.


It will be interesting to observe and see how David Hicks handles his newfound freedom.