The Australian federal government has approved a request to extradite a former U.S. Marine Corps fighter pilot to the United States where he faces conspiracy charges over allegations he unlawfully exported defence services to China.
Daniel Edmund Duggan, 54, who held both Australian and American citizenship, was accused of breaking U.S. arms control laws by training Chinese military pilots to land on aircraft carriers on three occasions in 2010 and 2012.
Australia received an extradition request from the U.S. for Duggan on Dec. 9.
Mark Dreyfus, Australian Attorney-General’s Department Mark Deyfrus, said on Dec. 29 that the U.S. sent a request of extradition to Australia on Dec. 9 and that Australia needed to formally respond to the request by Dec. 25, Reuters news agency reported.
“The Attorney-General has complied with this requirement, and Mr Duggan’s lawyer has been informed of that decision,” the department said in a statement to the Reuters news agency.
According to a 2017 indictment unsealed by a U.S. district court in Washington on Dec. 9, Duggan provided military training to Chinese pilots through a South African flight school on three occasions in 2010 and 2012, while he was a U.S. citizen.
According to the indictment, all former military personnel who wish to provide foreign nations with military training must seek authorization from the U.S. government. The U.S. State Department noted in the court papers that they had informed Duggan of this requirement in an email in 2008.
Duggan is also alleged to have violated an arms embargo imposed on China by the United States, of providing aviation services in China in 2010, and providing an assessment of China’s aircraft carrier training with a T-2 Buckeye aircraft being purchased from a U.S. aircraft dealer for this training.
The aircraft was later exported out of the country after false information was provided to the U.S. government.
Duggan also faces additional charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States by conspiracy to unlawfully export defence services to China, conspiracy to launder money, and two counts of violating the arms export control act and international traffic in arms regulations.
Prior to his arrest, Duggan, who is a father of six school-aged children, operated an adventure flight company in Australia called Top Gun Australia, before working as an aviation consultant in Qingdao, China, from 2015–2022, according to his LinkedIn profile.
He is listed on Top Gun Australia’s website as the chief pilot and managing director, with his biography stating that he served in the Persian Gulf during operations in Kuwait and spent time in the Spanish Navy, where he flew a range of military aircraft, including the AV-8B Harrier “Jump Jet,” T2C Buckeye, A4J “Skyhawk,” Hawk, and Mig29.
He is also said to have worked as a senior tactical instructor for weapons and tactics, air combat, and low-altitude flying.
Family Launch Petition to Stop Extradition
Duggan’s wife, Saffrine Duggan, has launched an online petition to free her husband and stop his potential extradition to the U.S.
She alleges that Duggan has been caught up in a politically motivated case that was part of the United States’ now-disgraced “China Initiative,” which has been criticised by the United States Congress, academia, civil rights groups, and Asian American communities.
“Daniel has been caught in a geo-political storm for working in China, doing work that has been done there for decades by Western, African and European pilots for decades with the full knowledge of these governments,” she said.
Victoria Kelly Clark contributed to this report.