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Australia’s Albanese Government Jails Afghan War Crimes Whistleblower

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David McBride has been sentenced to five years and eight months: Getty Images

Former Australian Army lawyer David McBride has received a five-year, eight-month term for disclosing evidence concerning alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.

Supporters of McBride have long expressed worry that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s Labor government is more interested in punishing him for disclosing information regarding war crimes than in prosecuting the accused 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,” Rawan Arraf, executive director of the Australian Centre for International Justice, said in a statement issued following 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, stressing McBride’s imprisonment would have “a grave chilling effect on potential truth-tellers”.

McBride, who came in the Supreme Court in Canberra, Australia, this morning with his favorite dog and surrounded by supporters, will remain in prison until at least August 13, 2026, when he will be eligible for release.

In an interview with Al Jazeera before his trial began last year, McBride stated that he had never denied distributing the materials.

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

The former Australian Army lawyer’s sentence comes nearly seven years after the ABC published the Afghan Files, a series of seven articles based on information McBride provided.

The documentary sparked an extraordinary Australian Federal Police raid on ABC headquarters in June 2019, however information revealed in the series were later validated by an Australian government inquiry, which discovered credible evidence to support charges of war crimes.

A spokesperson for the Office of the Special Investigator (OSI) told Al Jazeera that a former Australian Special Forces soldier who was charged with one count of murder on March 20, 2023, is now on bail with a hearing planned for July 2, 2024.

“This is the first war crime arrest resulting from [joint investigations between the Office of the Special Investigator (OSI) and the Australian Federal Police]” , a spokesperson stated.

The representative also stated that the investigations were “very complex” and “expected to take a significant amount of time,” but they were being carried out “as thoroughly and expeditiously as possible.”

In a second case last year, an Australian judge ruled that Australia’s most decorated soldier, Ben Roberts-Smith, was “complicit in and responsible for the murder” of three Afghan men while deployed.

The decision came in defamation proceedings taken by Roberts-Smith against three Australian publications that had reported on his accusations. Roberts-Smith has filed an appeal against the defamation ruling.

Anthony Albanese

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese: AAP Image

What People really think of Australia’s Anthony Albanese

Meanwhile, a scathing new poll found that Australians think Anthony Albanese is ‘weak’, a ‘liar’, and ‘useless’. Voters used the discouraging labels to describe the Prime Minister in the GXO Strategies/J.L. Partners poll.

Coalition leader Peter Dutton scored marginally better, with some calling him’strong’ and others calling him ‘arrogant’, ‘boring’, and ‘untrustworthy’. A survey of 2,000 people revealed that respondents would prefer have a beer or a meal with Mr Albanese.

Mr Dutton was perceived as the more practical candidate, with people stating that they would choose him if they needed someone to put out a kitchen fire or install a shelf.

According to the most recent Newspoll data, voters indicated that they were likely to have a beer with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in the pub.

Mr Albanese remained the favored candidate for Prime Minister, with 40% supporting his position overall, while only 36% supported Mr Dutton as leader. Some 23 percent were indecisive about their favorite leader.

Mr Dutton was the most popular leader among men, with 42% saying they would prefer him in the top post. Only 40% of men wanted Mr Albanese as Prime Minister.

Mr Albanese performed better among female voters, attracting 40%, but Mr Dutton received only 31%.

Mr Dutton beat the Prime Minister in terms of net favourability rating, which is the number of people who believe he is doing a good job minus the number of voters who disagree. Mr Dutton scored -4, while Mr Albanese scored -8.

Dr. Tom Lubbock, director of J.L. Partners, stated that while Mr Albanese is slightly ahead as the chosen Prime Minister, voters do not have a positive image of him.

He told the Daily Mail that voters regard him as ‘weak’ and a smaller proportion as ‘useless’ and ‘liar’. Mr Lubbock stated that Mr Albanese is viewed as more ‘caring’ and ‘understanding’ than his colleague.

Voters asked in the poll claimed they were more likely to choose Peter Dutton (pictured) to assist with practical activities such as putting up a shelf. He added that people were voting against the Prime Minister because of how he handled the cost-of-living situation.

‘Voters don’t perceive Labor doing anywhere near well enough on it, describing their performance so far largely as ‘poor’, but also as ‘awful’ and ‘terrible’,’ Mr Lubbock stated.

The federal government will outline its annual spending plans when Treasurer Jim Chalmers delivers the budget on Tuesday night.

Australians have had chronically high inflation rates, which peaked at 7.8 percent in the December quarter of 2022 but have subsequently declined to 3.6 percent as of March 2024. Since May 2022, the Reserve Bank has raised interest rates 13 times.

The CTNNews editorial team comprises seasoned journalists and writers dedicated to delivering accurate, timely news coverage. They possess a deep understanding of current events, ensuring insightful analysis. With their expertise, the team crafts compelling stories that resonate with readers, keeping them informed on global happenings.

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