Daniel Duggan is wanted in the United States on charges including conspiracy to unlawfully export defense services to China and money laundering. Lawyers for the former U.S. marine, accused of helping to train Chinese military pilots, have said they are investigating whether he was ‘trapped’ by American authorities who are seeking his extradition from Australia.
Duggan had applied for an Australian government job in aviation that needed security clearance. That was initially granted but was revoked soon after he returned to Australia.
The former U.S. marine pilot’s lawyer, Dennis Miralis, believes the extradition request is politically motivated and says that his client could well have been entrapped.
“It is striking to us that a sequence of events like that could occur,” Miralis told reporters Monday outside the court in Sydney. “We are exploring at this stage whether or not he was lured back to Australia by the U.S., where the U.S. knew that he would be in a jurisdiction where he would be capable of being extradited back to the U.S.”
“That is a matter of grave significance,” Miralis said. “At this stage these are matters under investigation.”
Authorities in Washington have accused Duggan of training Chinese fighter pilots and believe he’s violated the arms export control act.
He was arrested last October in the Australian state of New South Wales and has recently been moved from a remand center in Sydney to a maximum-security prison.
His legal team has filed a submission to the U.N. Human Rights Commission claiming that his incarceration breaches the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The Australian government approved a request for his extradition almost three months ago.
The former marine airman is an Australian citizen who’s renounced his U.S. citizenship. He denies breaking any law and has said he was training civilian not military pilots.
Australia, the United States and Britain in recent months have launched a crackdown on former military pilots being recruited by China.
A magistrate in Sydney will decide if Duggan is eligible for extradition to the United States to face criminal charges. The case has been adjourned until May 1.