'No great hope' in whistleblower avoiding jail: lawyer

David McBride is likely facing prison time after pleading guilty to leaking classified information that exposed claims of war crimes, his lawyer says, as the whistleblower remains unremorseful. 

The former military lawyer has pleaded guilty to three charges spanning stealing commonwealth property and passing classified information on to journalists without permission. 

Following his guilty plea, he told supporters outside the ACT Supreme Court he maintained he did the right thing and his actions were in the public interest. 

His lawyer Mark Davis says there was an incredible public benefit that came from his whistleblowing and his actions were well intended.

An inquiry following media stories from the documents he leaked uncovered credible information about 23 incidents of potential war crimes, which involved the killing of 39 Afghans and cruel treatment of two more.

McBride is undergoing an assessment for a custodial sentence served in the community.

Under the order, he would be supervised and need permission to leave the ACT.

While there was the potential he could avoid prison, they're "not taking any great hope", Mr Davis told AAP.

But he noted the judge was compelled to consider what the most appropriate sentencing option was. 

"Jail isn't always the most sensible," he said. 

McBride is expected to be sentenced in the new year. 

Mr Davis also took aim at whistleblower protections, saying in the decade since legislation was enacted, it hadn't been used to successfully defend anyone.

McBride had to drop his original argument to be protected under whistleblower laws after the prosecution moved to suppress evidence being heard due to national security concerns arising from the classified nature of some files. 

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus is in consultations for new public sector whistleblower protections, with submissions for the next tranche of reforms open until December 22.

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