Australian court jails former military lawyer for sharing secret documents with journalists

By Thomson Reuters May 13, 2024 | 10:06 PM

SYDNEY (Reuters) – An Australian court has sentenced a former military lawyer to five years and eight months in jail for sharing with journalists classified military documents about the special forces actions in Afghanistan, media reported on Tuesday.

David McBride pleaded guilty to three charges, including theft and sharing more than 200 documents classified as secret, with members of the media, the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) reported. He had admitted that he supplied the papers, but said it was in the national interest.

Reuters could not immediately reach McBride for comment.

A four-year investigation, known as the Brereton report, found in 2020 that Australian special forces allegedly killed 39 unarmed prisoners and civilians in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016. Australia referred 19 current and former soldiers for potential criminal prosecution as a result.

Judge David Mossop of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory rejected McBride’s argument that he did not believe he was breaking the law. The judge found the offences were aggravated by his high-security rating, which gave him access to the materials, the ABC report said.

(Reporting by Renju Jose in Sydney; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)