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Western Double Standards: Whistle-blower Sentenced for Afghan War Crimes Leak

© AP Photo / Rod McGuirkBanners in support of former army lawyer David McBride are shown during a rally before his court appearance in Canberra, Australia, Friday, Feb. 14, 2020
Banners in support of former army lawyer David McBride are shown during a rally before his court appearance in Canberra, Australia, Friday, Feb. 14, 2020 - Sputnik India, 1920, 14.05.2024
Yet another instance of Western double standards regarding human rights emerges as an Australian judge sentences a former army lawyer to nearly six years in prison for exposing Australian war crimes in Afghanistan.
An Australian judge handed down a nearly six-year prison sentence to a former army lawyer, David McBride, on Tuesday for leaking classified information to the media, which revealed allegations of Australian war crimes in Afghanistan.
McBride, 60, received a sentence of five years and eight months in prison after pleading guilty to three charges, including theft and sharing secret documents with journalists. Justice David Mossop stipulated that McBride must serve 27 months before being eligible for parole.
McBride's conviction and sentencing before any alleged war criminals he exposed has raised concerns among rights advocates, highlighting the absence of whistle-blower protections in Australia.
"I have never been so proud to be an Australian as today. I may have broken the law, but I did not break my oath to the people of Australia and the soldiers that keep us safe," McBride stated.
Australian Forces Accused of War Crimes: Killing Unarmed Afghan Civilians
His leaked documents served as the foundation for a seven-part television series aired by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 2017, which unveiled allegations of war crimes, notably the purported killing of unarmed Afghan civilians, including men and children, by soldiers of the Australian Special Air Service Regiment in 2013.
Police initiated legal proceedings against Oakes and his producer, Sam Clarke. Their actions culminated in a dramatic raid on the ABC's Sydney headquarters in 2019, during which documents were seized.
This event garnered unprecedented attention in Australia and attracted global headlines. Faced with public outcry, prosecutors ultimately chose not to press charges against the journalists, deeming it not in the public interest to do so.
Thereafter the Brereton report, a significant inquiry, revealed compelling evidence of unlawful civilian and prisoner killings in Afghanistan spanning from 2007 to 2013.
The report reveals "credible evidence" suggesting that Australian elite soldiers unlawfully killed 39 individuals during the Afghan war.
It also identified 25 special forces soldiers who were directly involved or complicit in unlawful killings, spanning 23 distinct incidents.
ADF chief Gen Angus Campbell emphasized that none of the incidents occurred in the heat of battle, “none were alleged to have occurred in circumstances in which the intent of the perpetrator was unclear, confused or mistaken”.
In response, the government established the Office of the Special Investigator to launch criminal inquiries into these allegations. To date, only one individual has been prosecuted.

"It is a stain on Australia's reputation that some of its soldiers have been accused of war crimes in Afghanistan, and yet the first person convicted concerning these crimes is a whistle-blower, not the abusers," Daniela Gavshon, Australia director at Human Rights Watch stated.

Ситуация в Афганистане после смены власти - Sputnik India, 1920, 10.12.2023
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