Former Fighter Pilot to Be Extradited, Allegedly Trained Chinese Pilots

( – A judge in Sydney, Australia ruled on Friday, May 24th to allow the extradition of Daniel Duggan, a former U.S. Marine and fighter pilot, to the U.S. to face charges of training Chinese pilots to land on aircraft carriers.

Fifty-five-year-old Duggan denies that he broke arms control law by training Chinese pilots while in South Africa without applying for or obtaining an appropriate license. He also denies charges of money laundering for payments he received from another conspirator for “personal development training.”

Duggan is married with six children. He was arrested at the home he shares with this family in the state of New South Wales in 2022 and has been held in a maximum security prison for 19 months. The indictment from 2016 which was unsealed in 2022 claims Duggan, a highly regarded jet pilot, “conspired with others” to provide training for Chinese military pilots. Magistrate Daniel Reiss ordered Duggan to remain in custody until he is extradited.

Lawyers for Duggan claim they have no legal grounds to challenge the judge’s ruling, but have fifteen days to present information to Attorney General Mark Dreyfus on why Duggan should not be extradited. Dreyfus will make the final decision.

Duggan served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 12 years. He reached the rank of Major while working as a tactical flight instructor. He immigrated to Australia in 2002 and gained his Australian citizenship in 2012. His wife Saffrine said the extradition hearing was “simply about ticking boxes” and she asked that the Attorney-General please “take another look at this case.”

Duggan’s lawyers have argued that since Duggan became an Australian citizen in 2012, months before the alleged offenses, he should not face extradition. They also said there is no evidence to prove the Chinese pilots allegedly trained by Duggan were military. U.S. attorneys argued that Duggan did not renounce his citizenship until 2016 when he signed documents at the U.S. embassy in Beijing.

Dreyfus’ office did not comment and said the government does not comment on extradition matters.

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