Intelligence officer death ‘linked’ to war crimes report

An Australian Intelligence ­officer's death in the Army headquarters carpark has links to the Brereton report into war crimes in Afghanistan, sources claim.

The man who worked for the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) was found dead by his colleagues on December 21 last year in the Russell complex. Police said there were no suspicious ­circumstances.

The man was believed to be in possession of an encrypted computer hard drive that "if it were to be made public would change a lot of the public stance and opinion on what went on in Afghanistan," a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity told The Sunday Telegraph.

"It is understood the intelligence officer was going to make the information public because the Brereton report is an erroneous one-sided witch- hunt against the SAS to try to appease the Afghanis."

It is believed the hard drive contains footage that puts the war "into context".

The Russell complex in Canberra.
The Russell complex in Canberra.

"The officer was fearful of the ramifications of what he had to expose," the source said.

News of the death at army headquarters spread quickly in military circles but, in the ­following days, information dried up.

A former insider from the defence and civilian intelligence organisations said at the time "it is unsurprising the intelligence community is being so evasive about the apparent suicide of one of its people".

"The community is very tight-knit, security clearances and compartment briefs are a precious commodity on which jobs are dependent and threats of being put 'out in the cold' are ever present. This is how our agencies bury their mistakes."

ACT Police confirmed they attended the incident and there were no suspicious ­circumstances.

ACT Coroners Court confirmed the death had been ­reported but a spokesman said no further information could be given regarding the "specific matter" including whether a coronal inquiry would be held.

Chief of the Defence Force General Angus Campbell released a redacted copy of the Afghanistan War Crimes report at Defence Headquarters in Canberra. Picture: NCA NewsWire /Gary Ramage
Chief of the Defence Force General Angus Campbell released a redacted copy of the Afghanistan War Crimes report at Defence Headquarters in Canberra. Picture: NCA NewsWire /Gary Ramage

A Defence spokesperson said: "The incident in the Russell precinct on December 21, 2020 has been referred to ACT Policing for investigation. As the matter is being investigated by ACT Policing, it would be inappropriate for Defence to comment, and any queries should be directed to ACT Policing."

The redacted version of the Brereton report, released publicly in November 2020, found evidence of 39 murders of civilians and prisoners by members of the Australian special forces, which were subsequently covered up by ADF personnel.

The report stated 25 ADF personnel were involved in the killings, including those who were "accessories" to the incident. Some of those believed to be involved were still serving with the ADF.

The unlawful killings discussed by the report began in 2009, with most occurring in 2012 and 2013.

Sources said members of the Australian intelligence community are so paranoid about losing their security clearances, or getting secretly locked up like "Witness J", who spent 15 months in jail for ­offences under the secrets act, that they won't raise issues of mental health.

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Originally published as Intelligence officer death 'linked' to war crimes report



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