Whistleblower David McBride to Be Sentenced

Australian whistleblower David McBride was back in court Monday for his sentencing hearing in a case in which his disclosures revealed Australian war crimes in Afghanistan.

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

A sentencing hearing has concluded in the case of Australian whistleblower David McBride who was forced to plead guilty to leaking classified documents to the media after he was essentially denied a defense at his trial in November. The documents ultimately revealed evidence of war crimes committed by the Australian Defence Force.

Justice David Mossop will pronounce the sentence next Tuesday. The government has demanded more than two years in prison, while the judge could impose as little as house arrest, monitoring , and counseling outside prison for up to four years.

McBride, a former military lawyer, was charged with stealing government documents and giving them to journalists at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, which revealed covered-up murders of unarmed civilians by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.  A four-year government inquiry later found 23 possible war crimes, including the murder of 39 Afghans. 

McBride’s defense had rested on the court accepting his argument that his oath to the British crown gave him a duty beyond obedience to military orders to instead inform the entire nation of government wrongdoing. 

But Justice Mossop refused that defense. “There is no aspect of duty that allows the accused to act in the public interest contrary to a lawful order,” he told the court in November.

McBride’s legal team tried to appeal that decision, but its application was denied by Supreme Court Chief Justice Lucy McCallum. On the same day in November Mossop ordered that agents of the Attorney General’s office could remove classified documents from the defense’s possession, which McBride’s team had intended to present to the jury.  

Because of those regressive rulings, McBride accepted his attorneys’ advice that, left with no viable defense, he should plead guilty.  

In arguing for a lengthy prison sentence, the government prosecutor said on Monday that McBride was motivated by arrogance and a sense of personal vindication rather than the public interest.

“Anything less would fall outside the appropriate range [of punishment],” the prosecutor, Trish MacDonald, said. “A period of imprisonment of two years doesn’t reflect the seriousness of the offending.”

Stephen Odgers, McBride’s chief attorney. told the court that McBride was a man of high character who suffered from post traumatic stress disorder, self-medicated with alcohol, and believed he was doing the right thing.  Odgers presented 13 character references.

But the prosecutor said McBride’s guilty plea to stealing government documents undermined his claims of honesty. “There’s no evidence, your honour, of contrition or remorse,” she said.

Sentencing will be handed down on May 14.

 *.  *. *

Read Consortium News’ X thread of this week’s sentencing hearing:

See Consortium News‘ coverage of the trial in November:

  • Kieran Pender – Human Rights Law Centre
  • Bernard Collaery – lawyer for Dan Duggan
  • Saffrine Duggan –  wife of Dan Duggan
  • Rex Patrick – former senator & RAN submariner/Founder of the Whistleblowers Justice Fund
  • Troy Stolz – Clubs NSW whistleblower
  • Jeff Morris – CBA banking whistleblower
  • Senator David Shoebridge – Greens Spokesperson Justice, Defence, Veteran’s Affairs
  • Dr Sue Wareham – Medical Association for the Prevention of War
  • Emma Davidson MLA – ACT Minister for Veterans
  • Michael West – investigative journalist
  • MC Jodie Harrison – journalist/media advisor 

McBride outside court on Monday. (Cathy Vogan/CN)

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8 comments for “Whistleblower David McBride to Be Sentenced

  1. LeoSun
    May 8, 2024 at 20:16

    “In arguing for a lengthy prison sentence, the government prosecutor said on Monday that McBride was motivated by arrogance and a sense of personal vindication rather than the public interest.” Joe Lauria

    …… “Where they couldn’t pick holes in our arguments they would drive horses and carriages through my character.” Julian Assange.

    “INTEGRITY is a foundational moral virtue, and the bedrock upon which good character is built.”

    “INTEGRITY, is doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.” C.S. Lewis, Author.

    …. “INTEGRITY is revealed when people act virtuously regardless of circumstance or consequences. This often requires moral courage. Indeed, integrity is the critical connection between ethics and moral action.”

    “Acting with INTEGRITY means understanding, accepting, and choosing to live in accordance with one’s principles, which will include honesty, fairness, and decency. A person of integrity will consistently demonstrate good character by being free of corruption and hypocrisy,” i.e., David McBride, Julian Assange, David Hicks, George Galloway. Clare Daly, to name a few; AND, no offense; but, the only American, imo, is Ralph Nader.

    …… “[IF WE CAN ONLY LIVE ONCE], then let it be a daring adventure that draws on all our powers. Let it be with similar types whos hearts and heads we may be proud of. Let our grandchildren delight to find the start of our stories in their ears but the endings all around in their wandering eyes. The whole universe or the structure that perceives it is a worthy opponent, but try as I may I can not escape the sound of suffering.

    Perhaps as an old man I will take great comfort in pottering around in a lab and gently talking to students in the summer evening and will accept suffering with insouciance. But not now; men in their prime, if they have convictions are tasked to act on them.” Julian Assange.

    ……………. “One of the best ways to achieve justice is to expose injustice.” Julian Assange.

    TY, Joe Lauria, David Mc Bride, CN, et al. “Keep It Lit!”

    The universe implores “The Beast” aka ‘the powers that be’ to, “UNCHAIN THEIR HEARTS. Please, Please, SET THEM FREE.” Hugh Laurie @ Ocean Way Studios in L.A., @ hxxps://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8HrmAgYE-6k&pp=ygUcSHVnaCBsYXVyaWUgdW5jaGFpbiBteSBoZWFydA%3D%3D

    Save The Dates: 5.14.24, 5.20.24, 10.22-24.2024-16th BRICS SUMMIT. Ciao

  2. susan
    May 8, 2024 at 10:41

    Of course he is being sentenced for exposing the TRUTH – while all of the western governments who are the real criminals are running amok in the world today…

  3. May 7, 2024 at 20:28

    Thank You Joe

  4. Graeme
    May 7, 2024 at 20:18

    The prosecutor said of McBride that “There’s no evidence, your honour, of contrition or remorse.”

    Why should there be any remorse?
    He is not the one who committed war crimes.
    He is not the one trying to keep those crimes a secret, well hidden from public scrutiny.
    (Echoes of Julian here).

    I would suggest that the prosecutor, in making such claims, is also complicit in wanting to conceal a war crime.

    For those wanting more: hxxps://michaelwest.com.au/?s=Mc+Bride

  5. Selina
    May 7, 2024 at 19:18

    Twisted Justice is not Justice and between McBride’s justices and those Assange has faced, the Australian and British justices
    appear to have a particular axes to grind instead of a heart, mind and soul commitment to objectivity and the kind of Justice that
    serves the ultimate essence of Justice ,fairness and justness in service of the peoples’ well being. Are the Australians spiritually
    and morally and physically better off knowing their own who acted criminality out in Afghanistan had to face the piper and be responsible for their behavior?

  6. Eric Arthur Blair
    May 7, 2024 at 18:43

    The long moral arc of the universe will ultimately place David Mcbride alongside Julian Assange, both great Australian champions of peace who revealed the egregious reprehensible crimes of the neocolonial, neoimperialist warmongering psychopaths.

  7. Andrew Nichols
    May 7, 2024 at 18:16

    The Australian regime relying on the Nazis Nuremberg Defence. Its as bad as that.

  8. Cal Lash
    May 7, 2024 at 15:09

    Wrong Wrong Wrong.

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