Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism – David McBride has declared “today I serve my country” as he entered an ACT court to face trial for the alleged leaking of material later used to expose Australian war crimes in Afghanistan.
McBride faces five charges, including the unauthorised disclosure of information, breaches of the Defence Act and the theft of commonwealth property. His trial started on Monday in the ACT supreme court.
The former military lawyer, who is represented by leading criminal law barrister Stephen Odgers SC, has pleaded not guilty.
McBride spoke briefly to the crowd as he entered the court with his support dog, Jakey, who will stay beside him during the proceedings.
“Today I serve my country,” he said. “The question I have for you, Anthony Albanese, is who do you serve?”
McBride allegedly leaked material to the ABC about the investigation of Australian special forces operating in Afghanistan.
Human Rights Law Center or HRLC, an alliance of Australian civil society groups and unions said in a statement that the prosecution of the war crimes whistleblowers would deter whistleblowers.
“There is no public interest in prosecuting whistleblowers. Today is a dark day for Australian democracy. The truth is on trial,” Kieran Pender, senior HRLC lawyer, said in the statement.
McBride was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 and 2013 as a Defense Force lawyer. He began leaking classified documents to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation between 2014 and 2016 about alleged war crimes by Australian special forces, according to the national broadcaster.