Former US Marine pilot can be extradited, Australian magistrate rules

Former US Marine pilot Daniel Duggan can be extradited from Australia to face US charges of training Chinese military pilots to land on aircraft carriers, a Sydney magistrate ruled on Friday.

Duggan, 55, a naturalized Australian citizen, is facing US charges including money laundering and breaking arms control law by training Chinese military pilots to land on aircraft carriers. He denies the allegations.

He has 15 days to seek a review of the magistrate’s ruling.

The decision to extradite will ultimately be made by Australia’s Attorney General.

Outside court his wife Saffrine said the family would appeal to Attorney General Mark Dreyfus to refuse the extradition.

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Former US Marine pilot Daniel Duggan can be extradited to the US from Australia to face charges of training Chinese military pilots to land on aircraft carriers. Saffrine Duggan

One of seven co-conspirators in a US indictment is convicted Chinese hacker Su Bin, although Duggan’s lawyers argue the hacking case is unrelated.

Duggan was arrested by Australian federal police in a rural town in New South Wales state in October 2022, shortly after returning from China, where he had lived since 2014.

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Duggan was arrested by Australian federal police in a rural town in New South Wales state in October 2022. Free Dan Duggan / Facebook

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Duggan, whose wife and six children are also Australian, has been held in a maximum security prison since his arrest. via REUTERS

In the same week, Britain issued a warning to its former defense staff not to train Chinese People’s Liberation Army pilots at a South African flying academy where Duggan had also worked.

Duggan, whose wife and six children are also Australian, has been held in a maximum security prison since his arrest.

Saffrine placed her hand against the glass window to the dock where Duggan sat in court on Friday.

Magistrate Daniel Reiss said the criteria for extradition had been met. “Mr Duggan is eligible for surrender,” he said.

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A Chinese fighter jet pilot from the Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army takes part in a training exercise around Taiwan on April 9, 2023. AP

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Saffrine Duggan attends a Free Dan Duggan rally calling for her husband’s release. Free Dan Duggan / Facebook

Duggan’s lawyers had previously argued there is no evidence the Chinese pilots he trained were military, and that he became an Australian citizen in January 2012, before the alleged offences.

The United States government has argued Duggan did not lose his US citizenship until 2016, when he signed a document renouncing it in the US embassy in Beijing.

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