Crossbenchers demand pardon for whistleblower McBride

Crossbenchers have called for the prime minister and attorney-general to pardon David McBride, who was sentenced earlier this week to nearly six years behind bars for leaking classified information.

The former military lawyer pleaded guilty to leaking secret defence material that exposed allegations Australian troops committed war crimes in Afghanistan.

McBride was sentenced to five years and eight months' imprisonment, with a non-parole period of two years and three months. His legal team has indicated they'll launch an appeal.

Independent MP Allegra Spender and Senator David Pocock were joined by Greens and one Liberal MP, Bridget Archer, in signing a letter addressed to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus demanding they pardon McBride.

A file photo of Allegra Spender
Independent MP Allegra Spender was among those who signed a letter urging McBride's pardon.

An inquiry later found credible information about 23 incidents of potential war crimes in Afghanistan, which involved the killing of 39 Afghans between 2005 and 2016.

"David McBride is the only person to go to jail for Australian wrongdoing in Afghanistan. Yet he is not the one who committed the war crimes," Ms Spender said.

"Tuesday’s prosecution is a shameful reflection of our broken whistleblower protection and secrecy laws and has sent a chilling message to whistleblowers across Australia.

"We need to protect Australians who have been brave enough to put themselves and their families at personal, financial, and other risks to tell the truth to power.”

A file photo of David McBride supporters
McBride's supporters are calling for his pardon and his legal team have indicated they will appeal.

The letter also calls for the prosecution of tax office whistleblower Richard Boyle to be dropped and serious reform for whistleblowing and secrecy laws.

It also called for the establishment of a whistleblower protection commission, with work to begin immediately so it could be up and running in 2025.

Boyle faces trial after publicly alleging the ATO had used heavy-handed tactics to recover debts, and being charged with recording private conversations and taking photos of confidential information.

"We urge you ... and to send a clear message to genuine whistleblowers that they are both respected and protected," the letter said.

License this article

What is AAPNews?

For the first time, Australian Associated Press is delivering news straight to the consumer.

No ads. No spin. News straight-up.

Not only do you get to enjoy high-quality news delivered straight to your desktop or device, you do so in the knowledge you are supporting media diversity in Australia.

AAP Is Australia’s only independent newswire service, free from political and commercial influence, producing fact-based public interest journalism across a range of topics including politics, courts, sport, finance and entertainment.

What is AAPNews?
The Morning Wire

Wake up to AAPNews’ morning news bulletin delivered straight to your inbox or mobile device, bringing you up to speed with all that has happened overnight at home and abroad, as well as setting you up what the day has in store.

AAPNews Morning Wire
AAPNews Breaking News
Breaking News

Be the first to know when major breaking news happens.

Notifications will be sent to your device whenever a big story breaks, ensuring you are never in the dark when the talking points happen.

Focused Content

Enjoy the best of AAP’s specialised Topics in Focus. AAP has reporters dedicated to bringing you hard news and feature content across a range of specialised topics including Environment, Agriculture, Future Economies, Arts and Refugee Issues.

AAPNews Focussed Content
Subscription Plans

Choose the plan that best fits your needs. AAPNews offers two basic subscriptions, all billed monthly.

Once you sign up, you will have seven days to test out the service before being billed.

AAPNews Full Access Plan
Full Access
  • Enjoy all that AAPNews has to offer
  • Access to breaking news notifications and bulletins
  • Includes access to all AAPNews’ specialised topics
Join Now
AAPNews Student Access Plan
Student Access
  • Gain access via a verified student email account
  • Enjoy all the benefits of the ‘Full Access’ plan at a reduced rate
  • Subscription renews each month
Join Now
AAPNews Annual Access Plan
Annual Access
  • All the benefits of the 'Full Access' subscription at a discounted rate
  • Subscription automatically renews after 12 months
Join Now

AAPNews also offers enterprise deals for businesses so you can provide an AAPNews account for your team, organisation or customers. Click here to contact AAP to sign-up your business today.

Download the app
Download AAPNews on the App StoreDownload AAPNews on the Google Play Store