A former defence lawyer charged for blowing the whistle on alleged misconduct by Australian special forces in says he is not afraid of going to jail and was merely doing his duty to expose illegal government behaviour.
David McBride, 55, is facing five charges in the ACT magistrates court for leaking classified material to three senior journalists at the ABC and the then Fairfax Media newspapers.
The documents formed the , an ABC expose in 2017 revealing shocking allegations of misconduct by Australian special forces in Afghanistan, including possible unlawful killings.
McBride appeared in court on Thursday to be formally charged and did not enter pleas.
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Speaking to the and outside of court, McBride said there was no dispute that he leaked the material. But McBride will argue that he was acting on his duty to report illegal conduct by the government.
He said he tried to report the matter internally and to police, failing at both hurdles.
“I think it was swept under the carpet,” McBride told reporters on Thursday. “I eventually saw the police, they didn’t do anything about it. Finally, I saw the press, and it was published on the ABC.”
McBride, a former British soldier, said he was not afraid of going to jail.
“They’ve threatened me all along with going to jail. If I was afraid of going to jail, why would I have been a soldier?” he said.
“Unfortunately there are too many people in who are afraid. Plenty of people knew what I knew, but no one else stood up.”
He said he wanted the court to simply consider whether the government’s actions were illegal.
“I’m seeking to have the case look purely at whether the government broke the law and whether it was my duty as a lawyer to report that fact,” he said. “I’m taking away, off the table, any dispute about whether the documents were given.”