SAS Trooper Evan Donaldson Reveals Hellish Fight To Restore His Identity Amid Allegations Of Major Defence Cover-up

05/02/2016 2:38 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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An SAS Trooper who alleges he was illegally stripped of his rank and subjected to a six-year cover-up at the hands of Australian Defence officials says he is not out for retribution.

Donaldson was allegedly seriously assaulted in 2006 during secret resistance to interrogation (RTI) training run, as revealed this week by independent Senator Jacqui Lambie, by the Defence Intelligence Organisation inside Australian territory, "involving techniques outlawed under the international convention governing the use of torture".

Months later, after experiencing symptoms of stress, he was denied sick leave and so took leave without pay. He returned to service in 2009. Shortly before a deployment to Afghanistan, he was suddenly removed from his unit and stripped of his rank.

"When you conceptualise it -- and it took me four years to get the pieces together, working every single day, hundreds of thousands of dollars -- it was obsessive," Donaldson told The Huffington Post Australia.

"The way you need to think about it, this is not a grand conspiracy."

Lambie used parliamentary privilege on Tuesday night to accuse Army officials of trying to discredit Donaldson and end his SAS career.

"Evan was bashed, bound, bagged, blindfolded, stripped naked, placed in stress positions, deprived of sleep and food for 96 hours and during that time he was sexually assaulted and left bleeding," Lambie said on Tuesday.

Donaldson believes a superior illegally altered his records and he was demoted without his case going through proper channels, and suspects his freedom of information campaign to find out what happened his career caused the Defence to try to cover its tracks.

It is alleged his signature was forged, documents destroyed, others back-dated and false statements corroborated so as to illegally change his identity on the Commonwealth database.

His rank was restored to that of SAS Trooper in 2015, he said.

Senator Lambie told the Senate the Australian Government owes Donaldson and his family over $1 million in legal fees, wages and entitlements.

While Trooper Donaldson has been fighting for recognition since 2009, Australia only became aware of the assault allegation on Tuesday night, during a news report on the ABC and through Senator Lambie's statement.

Donaldson told the national broadcaster that during one training session he was attacked while blindfolded and handcuffed, and assaulted by a guard with a knee to his buttocks resulting in a tear and bleeding.

"It sounds like a big deal, like the centrepiece of what happened, but for me that's not the case I don't even think about it," Donaldson told HuffPost Australia.

"I was an SAS soldier -- we went through a lot of hell during and after. That didn't bother me in the slightest, really.

"It just, f*** mate, like I've been through a lot of pain before. It wasn't a big deal, it happened and got on with things. I got on with things. But it's the symptoms that I got after (training)."

Donaldson said he never complained about that assault.

"I've made that clear in my submissions to ministers. I didn't seek any police prosecution of these people, I don't blame anyone, I have no resentment, but I thought 'if you're going to rely upon that to cover up these other crimes, then let's explore what that was'," he said.

Lambie's blistering Senate attack, while Donaldson and former soldier Marcus Saltmarsh watched on from the public gallery, took aim at top defence brass.

jacqui lambie

During Tuesday night's speech Senator Lambie accused the army of deliberately deceiving a succession of Defence ministers Donaldson's case for the past seven years.

Lambie said Saltmarsh, had been the subject of extraordinary abuse of office by senior members of the Australian Army and suffered post traumatic stress disorder after being sent autopsy photos of his best friend.

Saltmarsh was exonerated by a military court after the accidental shooting death of a fellow soldier, Corporal Stuart Jones, in East Timor in 2000.

"The cover-up in this matter has been at a very high level, spectacular and absolutely deliberate," she said.

evan donaldson

Trooper Evan Donaldson with his daughter.

Lambie is understood to have since met with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over the claims.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon on Tuesday said the alleged incident needed to be resolved.

"What Trooper Donaldson has been subjected to is nothing short of a travesty of justice," Senator Xenophon told ABC News.

"What he has gone through has been appalling. Defence needs to sort this out as a matter of urgency."

A petition to get Defence minister Marise Payne to order an independent investigation into the allegations was launched by Donaldson's wife, Phoebe, three months ago and has so far attracted more than 6,500 signatures.

The Huffington Post Australia has approached the Defence Minister for comment.

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