Military whistleblower returns to court

Former military lawyer David William McBride leaked classified documents to ABC journalists.
Former military lawyer David William McBride leaked classified documents to ABC journalists.

A military lawyer who blew the whistle on alleged war crimes by Australian troops will soon discover details of the charges against him.

Crown prosecutors have been given until August 8 to file their brief of evidence against David McBride, including witnesses they intend to call at his trial.

McBride will then be given a week to respond, before his case returns to the ACT Supreme Court on August 22.

The 55-year-old leaked classified documents to ABC journalists in 2017, who went on to produce a series called The Afghan Files.

The reports aired allegations of Australian soldiers carrying out unlawful killings in Afghanistan.

Recent raids at ABC headquarters in Sydney came off the back of those stories, with the public broadcaster launching separate legal action to declare the search warrants invalid.

The two journalists involved are also being pursued by federal police for publishing the documents.

McBride was committed to stand trial in May charged with theft of commonwealth property, three counts of breaching the Defence Act and unauthorised disclosure of information.

He appeared briefly before the ACT Supreme Court on Thursday for the latest in a series of preliminary hearings.

So far, the brief court appearances have largely centred on how sensitive information will be dealt with during his trial.

McBride last week agreed to journalists being kept out of the courtroom when secret information comes up.

Australian Associated Press