A former military lawyer who blew the whistle on alleged war crimes has turned to crowdfunding to raise money for his legal defence, urging the Australian public to help "put the government on trial".
David McBride, who initially planned to defend himself, was represented in the ACT Supreme Court on Friday by lawyer Bernard Collaery.
It is an intriguing twist given Mr Collaery is also fighting charges, levelled at him under Australia's strict national security laws, in an unrelated case.
Mr McBride was set to stand trial in March, accused of stealing Commonwealth property, the unauthorised disclosure of information, and breaching the Defence Act.
He does not deny taking classified information or leaking it to journalists, who used it in an ABC investigative series titled "The Afghan Files". The series included allegations that Australian soldiers shot dead unarmed civilians in Afghanistan.
But Mr McBride has pleaded not guilty and will defend the charges on legal grounds. He has described the ABC stories as a "beat-up", and said he had leaked the documents in a bid to expose alleged corruption and get better government protection for soldiers.
Mr McBride's trial, previously listed to start on March 2, was delayed on Friday. Justice Michael Elkaim vacated the date so that Mr McBride's new legal representatives could have time to familiarise themselves with the case.
The matter will return to court on February 24, when the court will deal with issues that include setting dates for a hearing on how public interest disclosure laws may be used as a defence.
On Friday, the court heard that hearing would likely take place in September, ahead of a trial that would likely not be held until November.
Speaking outside court, Mr McBride said he had sought legal representation because he had become convinced the case was bigger than him.
"These issues need to be properly ventilated," he told reporters.
Mr McBride said "people around the world" were happy to support his crowdfunding effort, because "we're taking on corruption in government".
By early Friday afternoon, the two day-old campaign had raised more than $14,000.
Mr McBride said if sportsman Israel Folau had been able to raise millions of dollars through a crowdfunding effort for a legal battle with Rugby Australia around freedom of speech, "why can't people who believe we can get rid of corruption in government ... raise just as much money?"
"All I say to people is it doesn't mean that there necessarily is corruption in government, but why don't we try and find out?" he said.
"I think we're never going to get [a federal Independent Commission Against Corruption] in Australia fast, but this is a great way to put the government on trial without an ICAC."
Mr McBride said he had always been "very confident on the issues" in his case.
He said he would happily go to jail if the conduct he tried to expose was found not to be corrupt, and that he was motivated to defend the charges not to avoid jail, but rather to "improve Australia".