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Former US fighter pilot held in Australia fights to stop extradition

Former US Marine Daniel Duggan, who was working in China, was arrested the same week the UK warned of Beijing’s recruitment of military pilot trainers.

A former American fighter pilot held in Australia under a veil of secrecy will “vigorously” fight efforts to have him extradited to the United States, his lawyer said.

The pilot, Daniel Edmund Duggan, 54, was arrested in rural New South Wales state in October by Australian Federal Police acting at the request of the United States for his arrest.

Duggan had arrived in Australia from China weeks earlier and had interacted with Australian intelligence agencies, his lawyer said on Friday. Details of the US arrest warrant and the charges he faces are sealed, his attorney said.

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Duggan’s arrest on October 21 came the same week the UK government issued a rare warning about China’s recruitment of retired British military pilots.

The Australian government confirmed that Duggan was arrested at Washington’s request, though US authorities have declined to say more and the charges remain unknown.

“He denies breaking any US, Australian or international law,” his lawyer, Dennis Miralis, told a Sydney court on Friday.

Duggan will be transferred to a maximum-security prison and did not ask for bail, his attorney said. The case was adjourned until November 28.

Miralis had told the court that he would lodge a complaint with Australia’s inspector general for intelligence on matters relating to Australia’s national security.

The Australian Attorney General’s Department said Duggan’s stated intention to file a complaint was his business. The Inspector General for Intelligence and Security (IGIS), an independent oversight office, declined to comment.

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Outside court, Miralis told the media that Duggan, who is now an Australian citizen, had returned from China “a few weeks before his arrest and in the intervening period there have been several interactions with those agencies that the intelligence inspector general has the ability to to investigate”.

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Miralis did not name the specific agencies, nor did he provide details about what was under investigation or Duggan’s alleged role in it.

He said the United States should not make an extradition request to Australia until this complaint is resolved.

Under Australia’s extradition treaty with the US, the extradition request must be made within 60 days of arrest.

“Mr Duggan is not currently charged with anything under Australian law. It is important to understand that the legal system in Australia has not yet taken over the jurisdiction of the matter, we are more in the area of ​​international relations, and it is a decision of the United States Department of State to determine whether or not to send an extradition. . application to Australia,” Miralis said.

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Duggan would separately complain that China had interfered with his human rights and freedom of movement in China, he added.

Duggan is a “well-regarded” fighter jet pilot, a fellow ex-Marine told Agence France-Presse, and recently worked in China training commercial flight crews.

Duggan’s company website says he spent more than a decade flying in the US Marine Corps, rising to the rank of major and working as a tactical flight instructor.

He ran an adventure flight company in Australia after leaving the Navy, then moved to Beijing around 2014, company records show.

China’s Foreign Ministry has denied knowledge of the employment of British pilots after media in the UK reported that more than 30 pilots had accepted lucrative offers to train China’s military.

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