Former US military pilot arrived in Australia from China weeks before arrest — lawyer

04 November 2022 - 12:22
By Kirsty Needham
Details of the US arrest warrant and the charges he faces are sealed, his lawyer said.
Image: 123RF/Lukas Gojda/ File photo Details of the US arrest warrant and the charges he faces are sealed, his lawyer said.

A former US military pilot arrested in Australia and facing likely extradition to the US on undisclosed charges had arrived from China weeks before and interacted with Australian intelligence agencies, his lawyer said on Friday.

The pilot, Daniel Edmund Duggan, 54, was arrested in Orange in a rural part of New South Wales state in October by federal police acting on a US request for his arrest.

Details of the US arrest warrant and the charges he faces are sealed, his lawyer said. Consequently Reuters was unable to determine the specifics of Duggan's case, or why he may have interacted with Australian intelligence.

Duggan, a former US citizen and ex-US Marines Corp pilot, had been working in China as an aviation consultant since 2014, according to his public LinkedIn profile and aviation sources who knew him.

His lawyer, Dennis Miralis of Nyman, Gibson and Miralis, said Duggan will be moved to a maximum-security prison in Goulburn, and did not seek bail at a court hearing in Sydney. The matter was adjourned until November 28.

“He denies having breached any US law, any Australian law, any international law,” Miralis said outside the court.

Miralis told the court he would lodge a complaint with Australia's inspector-general of intelligence about matters which touch on Australia's national security.

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS), an independent oversight office, declined to comment. Australia's attorney-general's Department said Duggan's stated intention to make a complaint was a matter for him.

Outside court, Miralis told media that Duggan, who is an Australian citizen, had returned from China “a few weeks prior to his arrest and in the intervening period a number of interactions occurred with those agencies that the inspector-general of intelligence has the capacity to investigate”.

Miralis did not name the specific agencies, provide details on what was under investigation or Duggan's alleged role in it.

He said the US should not make an extradition request to Australia until this complaint was resolved.

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

“Mr Duggan at the moment is not accused of anything under Australian law. It's important to understand the legal system in Australia has not yet seized jurisdiction of the matter, we are more in the area of international relations, and it is a decision for the US State Department to determine whether it wishes to send an extradition request to Australia,” Miralis said.

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