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Whistleblower still hoping for open court

A former military lawyer charged with leaking classified information to the media has struck a deal with the Commonwealth about how the sensitive information will be dealt with in court.

But David McBride says he had to agree to keep journalists out of the courtroom when secret information comes up in his trial simply to move his case forward.

McBride, 55, appeared before the ACT Supreme Court on Thursday for the latest in a series of preliminary hearings.

A lawyer for the attorney-general's department told Justice Michael Elkaim the Commonwealth, his department and McBride have agreed on how secret information will be handled.

But he noted there is a "slight complication", with the ABC and other media organisations concerned about the orders.

To grapple with that, the lawyer proposed the orders be made on an "interim basis", acknowledging media outlets may wish to file an application to vary them.

Justice Elkaim opted to issue the orders until further ones are made, with the organisations given until July 26 to work on filing applications.

The ABC's lawyer Matthew Lewis said the broadcaster was only concerned with the part of the orders pertaining to its rights to appear and be heard.

Outside court and flanked by supporters, McBride - who was representing himself - said the agreement he came to with the attorney-general's department was that the courtroom will be closed every time secret information comes up.

But he stressed he is still hoping that won't be the case.

"I had to agree today, because if I didn't agree today we couldn't even move forward," he told reporters.

"But now we can move forward. I'm going to apply to the court or at least get maybe the press to put pressure on the government to ... re-classify the documents.

"Let's have an open court so Australia can see what's going on."

McBride believes it may also work against his defence to have a "patchwork" situation where the court is sometimes closed and sometimes not.

"I won't be able to speak eloquently and present my case in a smooth fashion, and stopping and starting will only annoy the judge and annoy everybody."

McBride's leaks were to ABC journalists who produced the 2017 investigative report The Afghan Files.

Recent raids at the ABC came off the back of those stories, which alleged Australian soldiers may have carried out unlawful killings in Afghanistan.

ABC managing director David Anderson has also written to Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton urging that a police investigation into the journalists be dropped, it was revealed on Thursday.

"We are disappointed the fate of our journalists ... remains unclear," Mr Anderson told ABC staff in an email.

The ABC is pursuing separate action in the Federal Court, wanting to declare the search warrant involved in the raid invalid.

The broadcaster is seeking a permanent injunction stopping the AFP accessing the electronic files removed from Ultimo on a sealed USB stick.

McBride was committed to stand trial in May charged with theft of commonwealth property, three counts of breaching the Defence Act and unauthorised disclosure of information.

© AAP 2019