Thursday, June 20, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Whistleblower exposed war crimes – sentenced to prison


Published 17 May 2024
- By Editorial Staff
David McBride says the Australian people deserved to know the truth.

David McBride, a former major and lawyer in the Australian army, has been sentenced to five years and eight months in prison for leaking classified documents revealing how the country’s special forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan.

The ruling has been heavily criticized by human rights groups, activists and press freedom advocates, who say it serves as a deterrent so that potential whistleblowers will not dare to come forward in the future.

– Shame, chanted the audience in the courtroom in Canberra on Tuesday when the judge handed down the sentence, according to left-liberal CNN.

McBride’s lawyer called the sentence “completely out of line” and said that few Australians will now feel motivated to expose wrongdoing.

– Anyone who’s observed what’s happened to McBride will be well advised to shut up, put your head down and get back to the workplace. That was pretty much the tone of the verdict today, lawyer Mark Davies said, adding his client was in “total shock” at the sentence and promised that he would appeal.

Planted weapons

McBride allegedly stole classified defense documents between 2014 and 2015 and shared them with a small number of ABC journalists – who then published a series of articles detailing a wide range of war crimes – including the killing of unarmed Afghans.

The ABC’s reporting was later confirmed by an Australian Defense Force (ADF) investigation, which found credible evidence that members of the Australian Special Air Service (SAS) committed war crimes in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2013.

The Afghanistan investigation, also known as the Brereton Report, found that in some cases SAS members had also planted weapons near killed Afghan civilians in an attempt to make it appear that they were not executed but killed in self-defense.

“No remorse”

McBride says he leaked the documents out of a sense of duty to the Australian public. The judge has admitted that he did not act to benefit himself financially or to help Australia’s enemies, but that he “has no remorse and still believes he did the right thing”.

Self-confident people with strong opinions who are subject to legal duties not to disclose information must be deterred from making disclosures in order to advance their own opinions. They must know that breaching their legal obligations to maintain the confidentiality which they have undertaken to protect will be met by significant punishment. That is particularly so when that information is secret and its disclosure has the potential to harm Australia’s national security,” the judge wrote.

Mr. McBride has many supporters in Australia who have pleaded unsuccessfully with the Attorney General to drop the charges.

– David McBride leaked documents to our national broadcaster which contained credible evidence of war crimes committed by Australian forces in Afghanistan. That information is obviously in the public interest, I don’t think anyone can deny that, said Kieran Pender, Legal Director of the Human Rights Law Center.

“A hero”

Journalist and author Peter Freste agrees, saying the ruling will have a “very serious chilling effect” on further whistleblowing, and also have implications for press freedom.

– It’s part of the democratic system that sources with evidence of wrongdoing in governments, when internal mechanisms fail, can go to journalists and give them the information they need to expose these stories and still have their identities protected, he said.

– This undermines that principle in a serious and profound way. I am very worried. David should be treated as a hero, not as a villain.

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