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Former military lawyer David McBride faces a secret trial on November 13 for allegedly leaking classified defence information to journalists at the ABC and the Fairfax Media newspapers. The material later formed the basis of “The Afghan Files”, a 2017 ABC expose revealing allegations of misconduct by Australian special forces in Afghanistan.

The disclosures led to a much-publicised AFP raid on the Sydney offices of the ABC and the Brererton Inquiry, which found that credible information existed of 23 incidents in which one or more non-combatants were unlawfully killed by or at the direction of Australian Special Forces.

McBride has pleaded not guilty to five charges, including the unauthorised disclosure of information, theft of commonwealth property and breaching the Defence Act. As in the Assange case, while war criminals are protected, the whistleblower faces 50 years imprisonment for doing his job.

At The Persecution of Truth seminar, held in Brisbane in April, McBride condemned the situation for free speech and whistleblower protection in Australia. In the name of national security, he said, governments have passed draconian laws that allow the security agencies to hide their misdeeds behind laws that allow secret trials, and allow the government to present secret information to the judge without the knowledge of the accused or their lawyers. McBride’s case will be prosecuted under these secrecy laws. He said:

“We have become the dystopian world where we imprison people who point out terrible murders like Julian Assange. Stripped down to the essential elements of Julian Assange's case, he pointed out that the US government murdered people, and instead of them being brought to justice, the US government is going to murder him. And it gets worse. The so-called bright lights of our democracy, the New York Times, the Washington Post, et cetera, are going to cheer the government on while Julian Assange dies.”

“I'm not here to avoid going to gaol. I'm here to get change. I'm here to kill this dragon. It's not good enough if they just drop the charges and slink away. They've wasted 10 years of my life. They've ruined my career, a career I loved. They have done untold damage to my children's psychology. I'm not going to be satisfied if they just slink away into the bushes. I'm here to kill this monster, and that may mean going to trial. It may mean being gaoled. That is often the way we get changed.”

He thanked the attendees at the seminar, adding: “It's just like a football team and while I'm the one that has to go to gaol, I don't do it alone. I would be dead without the supporters. I would be dead without you.”

McBride’s trial will be hugely expensive affair. To help him the Assange campaign in Brisbane is holding a fundraiser on Friday, August 18. Declassified, a short video about McBride and his case will be shown and David McBride will host a Q+A about the film and his case afterwards. Please come along and, if you can, donate to David McBride’s defence.

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16 Peel Street South Brisbane QLD 4101, Australia

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