Former top gun pilot facing extradition to US claims ASIO knew of work

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun5,2024
Key Points:
  • Former fighter pilot Daniel Duggan is eligible for extradition to the United States.
  • Duggan was arrested for breaching arms trafficking and has spent 19 months in a maximum security prison.
  • He claims that both Australian and American intelligence agencies were aware of his work.
The fate of an ex-US fighter pilot and Australian citizen facing allegations of helping the Chinese military rests with the attorney general after a court signed off on his extradition to his former home country.
Former US marine, Daniel Duggan had spent 19 months in a maximum-security prison before Friday’s hearing in a Sydney court on the US extradition order.

He has 15 days to apply for a review in the Federal Court, otherwise, it falls to Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus to determine whether he should be surrendered to the US.

Supporters of former US Marine Daniel Duggan stand with a banner calling for his extradition to the United States to be stopped.

Duggan’s supporters say the charges are politically motivated. (AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi) Source: AAP / BIANCA DE MARCHI/AAPIMAGE

The 55-year-old was arrested in Australia at the behest of the US after being accused of breaching arms trafficking laws by providing military training to Chinese pilots in South Africa between 2010 and 2012, allegedly receiving about $100,000 for his services.

In a letter from prison, seen by the Australian Associated Press (AAP), Duggan said he believed his activities weren’t illegal and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and the US Naval Central Intelligence Service (NCIS) knew of his work.

‘No warning’ that work was illegal

“Neither ASIO or NCIS made any claim or gave any warning that the activity was considered illegal,” he wrote.
When he offered not to return to South Africa or China to intelligence agents, he said they were “indifferent” about his work and told him they didn’t want to interfere with his business in the region.
The letter also stated that ASIO agents brought up being able to meet Chinese generals and the topic of intelligence in a 2012 interview, leading him to believe they were trying to recruit him as a spy, Duggan said.

ASIO said it was unable to comment because the matter was before the court.

Duggan’s wife, Saffrine, presented a petition with 25,000 signatures to politicians in Canberra, calling on Dreyfus to release her husband and end his extradition.
“We would like him to exercise his right as attorney-general to step in here and help an Australian citizen,” she told AAP. Dreyfus declined to comment.
Greens senator David Shoebridge said he would table the petition in parliament.

“Our government should show some guts, our government should make it clear that being an Australian citizen matters, and that when another country comes for you, they’ll protect you as best they can … but we’ve seen none of that,” he said.

‘Ticking a box’

Outside court, Saffrine said Friday’s hearing was a box-ticking exercise.
“There was no opening in the local court for my husband to run his case, today was simply about ticking boxes and it’s time to move on to the next stage,” she said.

“We respectfully ask the attorney-general to take another look … and to bring my husband home,” she said.

Saffrien Duggan, wife of Daniel Duggan.

Saffrine Duggan says the attorney-general must take another look at her husband’s case. Source: AAP / MICK TSIKAS/AAPIMAGE

Duggan’s lawyer, Bret Walker, earlier conceded there was no legal argument to be mounted during the brief hearing in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court.

The magistrate ordered the ex-fighter pilot to be held in custody to await extradition under a temporary surrender warrant.
Lawyer Bernard Collaery asked for him to be held at Lithgow so he could be closer to his family.

A spokesman for the attorney-general said the government did not comment on extradition matters.

‘We will fight no matter what’

An April court bid failed to postpone the hearing after claims Duggan had racked up $800,000 in legal bills and was unable to fund his future defence.
Duggan and his family argue the charges are politically motivated given the deterioration of Sino-American relations and how long ago the alleged actions occurred.

“They have done everything in their power to make this difficult for my family, to try and break Dan and to break us, but we will fight no matter what,” Saffrine said.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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One thought on “Former top gun pilot facing extradition to US claims ASIO knew of work”
  1. It’s quite concerning if true that both ASIO and NCIS were aware of Duggan’s work but did not warn him about any potential legal issues. This raises questions about their involvement and responsibility in this case.

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