News National Former Defence Force lawyer charged over special forces leak

Former Defence Force lawyer charged over special forces leak

David McBride says the government broke the law. Photo: ABC
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A former Defence Force lawyer has been charged with releasing classified material to three high-profile journalists.

David McBride, 55, is facing charges over the release of material related to the alleged misconduct of Australian special forces in Afghanistan.

In the ACT Magistrates Court today he was formally charged with giving the material to journalists Dan Oakes, Andrew Clark and Chris Masters.

Mr McBride has not entered pleas to any of the charges, but outside court said he was “not making any bones about” his role in the events.

“There’s no question in that I’ve told the Federal Police I did give the classified documents to the Herald, to the ABC, and to Chris Masters,” he said.

I’m seeking to have the case looking purely at whether the Government broke the law and whether it was my duty as a lawyer to report that fact.”

Mr McBride said he had tried internal processes within the department to bring his allegations of wrongdoing to light, but went to the press when that was not successful.

He also took aim at the prospect his lawyers would have to have a security clearance to represent him, so they could see classified information in the case.

“There’s no reason this shouldn’t be held in an open court, in fact it should be,” he said.

“The Government is using that as a smokescreen to try to stop the journalists and the people of Australia finding out what actually went on.”

Mr McBride said he was arrested last year in what he said were dramatic circumstances at Sydney Airport.

He said he had been living in Spain, but had returned for a few days for the father-daughter dance at his daughter’s school. He was arrested as he attempted to leave Australia again.

Mr McBride said he was not afraid of what may lay ahead.

“They’ve threatened me all along with going to jail and I say, if I was afraid of going to jail, why would I have been a soldier?” he said.

The case is expected to be back in court in May.