Accused War Criminal Ben Roberts-Smith Wiped His Laptop After Being Specifically Asked Not To

The former soldier is about to face a defamation hearing.

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For reasons still unknown, a former soldier who is about to face a defamation hearing thought it would be a good idea to wipe his laptop — which supposedly contained material of ‘national security’ — just days after he was literally asked not to.

Ben Roberts-Smith was once a celebrated Australian soldier, so much so that he was awarded the Victorian Cross.

But the ‘war-time hero’ has been shrouded by accusations of gross war crimes since 2018, when various Australian newspapers published reports with details of soldier’s actions whilst deployed in Afghanistan. The worst of the allegations being that Roberts-Smith supposedly murdered unarmed Afghan civilians.

He is now suing Nine newspapers The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and The Canberra Times over the reports.

So, What Happened To His Laptop?

At a preliminary hearing on Tuesday, a media barrister for Nine newspapers, told the court that her team had asked for several USB drives that had been taken from Roberts-Smith’s former home in June last year.

When they were told the contents of the USBs had been “condensed” onto a laptop, they asked for that instead.

“We then sought the laptop, with a view to it being inspected by an expert and were told on Friday night that [Roberts-Smith] has wiped the hard drive of that laptop, very recently, on the 17th of April,” said Lyndelle Barnett, the lawyer acting on Nine’s behalf.

Barnett told the court that the laptop had been wiped five days after her team tried to get hold of the important documents and information it contained, which could be sensitive to the upcoming case.

“We are concerned about the hard drive being wiped in those circumstances, it is something we wish to explore,” said Barnett.

But Roberts-Smith’s acting lawyer, Bruce McClintock told the hearing that “there is nothing sinister in what has occurred,” and pointed out that his “client was in the course of buying a new computer.”

McClintock added that the former soldier was “happy to provide the laptop.” But to our understanding, that hasn’t happened yet.

Roberts-Smith is among many elite Australian soldiers being accused of horrific war crimes in Afghanistan, following a landmark investigation that found 19 Australian soldiers had illegally killed 39 people, and “cruelly treated” another two, between 2005 and 2016.

Nine newspapers continue to defend their 2018 reporting. The defamation trial is set to begin in Sydney on June 7th.