The law firm Xenophon Davis today announced it would defend the former Australian military lawyer and whistleblower David McBride against charges under the Defence Act and the Commonwealth Criminal Code.
Mr McBride is facing criminal charges for leaking military documents to the ABC which indicated command failures endangering the lives of Australian troops and alleged war crimes committed by soldiers serving in Afghanistan.
The files, also known as the ‘Afghan Files’, included reports of several incidents where Afghan insurgents and unarmed civilians were killed by SAS troops between 2009 and 2013.
McBride has represented himself in a number of preliminary hearings in the ACT Supreme Court. He recently launched a GoFundMe account to enable him to secure a defence team against charges that may see him jailed for life.
Xenophon Davis partner Mark Davis said: “The pressures on David McBride are unbearable, but the stakes are high for all of us.”
“The extreme powers we gave to prosecutors in Australia were meant to save us from terrorists. Now the government seems intent on using those powers to annihilate Australians who act with the most moral of reasons. Like McBride, like the men on last night’s ABC Four Corners report, like Bernard Collaery and Witness K, there is a very dangerous pattern emerging here.”
“Remarkably, under new security legislation, we now need to seek clearance to see the accusations against Mr McBride. In effect, we need to seek approval to even act for him, something you would expect in authoritarian regimes.”
“This reverses a centuries old cornerstone of the law that an accused has the right to choose their own lawyer. We now need to go cap in hand, begging for the approval of the same people who are persecuting him,” said Mr Davis.
Xenophon Davis partner Nick Xenophon said: “The latest accusations of war crimes in Afghanistan on Four Corners reveal the very issues that McBride was trying desperately to advise military commanders and politicians of in 2013. They totally ignored him.”
“It is a privilege to be acting for David McBride. His will be a test case for whistleblowers and the right for all of us to know what happens in the shadows of our government and military.”