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Army whistleblower jailed over leak

David McBride, who leaked classified documents which exposed war crimes in Afghanistan.

High-profile military whistleblower David McBride has been sentenced to five years and eight months in prison.

The former army legal officer received his sentence today in the ACT Supreme Court on five charges, including disclosing information in breach of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) and unlawfully providing classified information under the Defences Act 1903 (Cth).

The national security offences related to his leak of classified documents which exposed war crimes committed by Australians in Afghanistan.

McBride had argued he was immune from prosecution under federal whistleblowing law, but withdrew that defence in 2022. He then argued that the offences he was charged under contained a public interest element; after that was rejected by the trial judge, he pleaded guilty in November 2023.

McBride’s legal team has announced it will appeal the sentence, which has a non-parole period of two years and three months.

Richard Boyle, who exposed serious unethical conduct in the Australian Taxation Office, is due to face trial in the Supreme Court in Adelaide next year on charges under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (Cth).

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In July last year, Mr Dreyfus elected to exercise his power under the Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth) to discontinue the prosecution of whistleblower lawyer and former ACT Attorney-General Bernard Collaery.

Mr Collaery had been charged under the Intelligence Services Act 2001 (Cth) after he helped expose Australia’s bugging of Timor-Leste during commercial negotiations over access to resources in the Timor Sea.

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