David McBride, a former Australian military lawyer and whistleblower on alleged war crimes by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan spoke to media outside the ACT Courts on August 22. He was there for a preliminary hearing on charges he is facing for theft of commonwealth property, breaching the Defence Act and unauthorised disclosure of information. If convicted, this 55-year-old could spend the rest of his life in jail.
In June this year, the Australian Federal Police raided the ABC's Sydney offices in relation to the "Afghan Files" reports two years ago. McBride admits to being the source of those reports.
McBride accuses his accusers of enabling war crimes and seeking to cover up these crimes:
“The government should justify why after five to ten years these documents [which McBride admits he leaked] could hold anything the public don’t deserve to know. I’d say it is the opposite. They do deserve to know what went on in Afghanistan. There’s nothing secret about it and we need an open trial but at the moment it is not.”
In the same ACT court complex, another whistleblower trial is taking place – also in secret: that of former Australian secret agent "Witness K” and his lawyer Bernard Collaery. They are being persecuted for blowing the whistle on Australia’s bugging of Timor-Leste Prime Minister and Cabinet offices during critical negotiations over offshore oil and the maritime boundary between Australia and Timor-Leste.
“The former secretary of defence has come out and said that we need to protect our secrets or the Americans won’t give us secrets. But that is a smokescreen. There are no secrets but there is shame,” McBride said.
“If we kill our own soldiers, if we experiment on them illegally, bug offices of other countries for oil companies, that’s not a secret, that’s a crime.”