Heston Russell speaks out about war-crime-arrestee’s identity

Former commando major Heston Russell has come to the defence of the former soldier arrested yesterday – attacking media outlets who named the accused and the absence of laws to protect the man.

Mr Russell said it was a national shame and absolute disgrace the way that too many people in positions of power have treated and now abandoned our service men after sending them to do what they would and could not do themselves.

“Our role in Afghanistan was not comfortable, nor was it easily conducted with the clarity of the armchair opinions that now seek to slander what they can and will never understand first hand,” Mr Russell said.

“Our roles in special forces require us to embark upon actions that bring real dangers to ourselves and those we love back home.

“This is why all special-forces personnel are supposed to be afforded ‘protected-identity status’ – the ability to keep our identities out of the Australian media – especially at a time when Afghanistan is back under Taliban control and knowing all too well the real evil that is out there in the world.

“Instead, over the past few years, outlets and certain journalists have taken it upon their righteous selves to publish the names, pictures and other personal details of our special-forces veterans for the benefit of their own media agendas.

“This has to stop!

“It’s time to step up and support those who have served and sacrificed so much for this nation.

“We must take action to make legislation that protects those we have a moral obligation to still support – so they can be afforded due process and the presumption of innocence – to be decided in the courts of law in this land, not the media circus that now destroys the lives of our veterans and their families before any trial.

“Child sex offenders in Australia have more rights to protect their identities under current legislation than our veterans who have served in special forces.”

Mr Russell called on fair-minded Australians to write to their elected members of parliament and senators (find all their contact details at https://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members ). He even supplied a hand template of words to use (see below).

“People taking action together, united with purpose, is how we do what needs to be done,” Mr Russell said.

“Please take action today and support those who have and continue to serve.”

 

 

TEMPLATE:

Dear [elected-representative’s name],

On 20 March 2023, a member of the Special Air Service (SAS) was charged by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) on allegations of war crimes. I do not know the full details of the combat operations conducted by our Special Forces in Afghanistan, nor have these been made public.

I do not propose to speak to the former SAS members’ conduct, as I was not present in Afghanistan in 2012. However, I wish to raise my serious concerns for him and his family following his full name, age and photograph being reported by ABC on 20 February 2023.

In circumstances where members of the SAS and the Special Forces community have undertaken high-value and high-risk counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan, it ought to be reasonably apparent there could be reprisal action against their families and persons if their identities were known.

Given the above, I seek your intervention to ensure any further members of the Special Forces community remain unnamed until they are convicted. This protective measure has the benefit of ensuring the proper administration of justice while also ensuring the Court’s processes are not prejudiced or in any way hindered by contrived news articles which do not provide the full particulars of an event. It is likely that once the former SAS member appears before a Court there will be a suppression order in place. However, there should be no reporting until it is appropriate to do so.

Our Soldier’s conduct overseas deserves our respect and, at minimum, has earned them the right to privacy during whatever Court proceedings they are subjected to. Given this, I request you write to the Attorney-General of Australia to seek agreement that members and former members of the Special Forces community can maintain their protected identity status.

Kind regards,
[your name and details]
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Posted by Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

One thought on “Heston Russell speaks out about war-crime-arrestee’s identity

  • 26/03/2023 at 6:02 pm
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    A disgrace that anyone in this country is named for any offence until proven guilty. I have sent to my federal representative.

    Reply

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