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Australian war crimes whistleblower David McBride jailed for six years

Eight years after Australia began investigating alleged war crimes in Afghanistan, a whistleblower is the first to be punished.

Former Australian Army lawyer David McBride has been sentenced to five years and eight months for revealing information about alleged Australian war crimes in Afghanistan.

Supporters of McBride have long expressed his concern that the Australian government was more interested in punishing him for revealing information about war crimes rather than the alleged perpetrators.

“It is a travesty that the first person imprisoned in relation to Australia’s war crimes in Afghanistan is not a war criminal but a whistleblower,” said Rawan Arraf, the executive director of the Australian Centre for International Justice, in a statement released after the sentencing.

“This is a dark day for Australian democracy,” Kieran Pender, the acting legal director of the Melbourne-based Human Rights Law Centre, said in the same statement, noting McBride’s imprisonment would have “a grave chilling effect on potential truth-tellers”.

McBride, who arrived at the Supreme Court in Canberra, Australia this morning with his pet dog and surrounded by supporters, will remain behind bars until at least August 13, 2026, before he is eligible for parole.

In an interview with Al Jazeera before his trial began last year, McBride said he had never made a secret of sharing the files.

“What I want to be discussed is whether or not I was justified in doing so,” McBride stressed.

The former Australian Army lawyer’s sentencing comes almost seven years after Australian public broadcaster, the ABC, published a series of seven articles known as the Afghan Files based on information McBride provided.

The series led to an unprecedented