Ex-US Marine Daniel Duggan, who worked in China, was arrested in the same week the UK warned about Beijing’s recruitment of military pilot trainers.
A former US fighter pilot detained in Australia under a veil of secrecy will “vigorously” fight efforts to have him extradited to the United States, his lawyer has said.
The pilot, Daniel Edmund Duggan, 54, was arrested in a rural part of New South Wales state in October by Australian Federal Police acting on a US request for his arrest.
Duggan had arrived in Australia from China weeks before and had interacted with Australian intelligence agencies, his lawyer said on Friday. Details of the US arrest warrant and the charges he faces are sealed, his lawyer said.
Duggan’s arrest on October 21 came the same week the UK government issued a rare warning about China’s recruitment of retired British military pilots.
The Australian government confirmed Duggan was arrested at Washington’s request, although US authorities have refused to say more and the charges remain unknown.
“He denies having breached any US law, any Australian law, any international law,” his lawyer, Dennis Miralis said outside a Sydney court on Friday.
Duggan will be moved to a maximum security prison, and did not seek bail, his lawyer said. The case was adjourned until November 28.
Miralis had told the court he would lodge a complaint with Australia’s inspector-general of intelligence about matters which touch on Australia’s national security.
Australia’s Attorney General’s Department said Duggan’s stated intention to make a complaint was a matter for him. The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS), an independent oversight office, declined to comment.
Outside court, Miralis told media that Duggan, who is now 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 United States State Department to determine whether or not 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 added.
Duggan is a “well-regarded” fighter jet pilot, a fellow ex-Marine told Agence France-Presse, and had recently worked in China training commercial flight crew.
Duggan’s company website says he spent more than a decade flying in the US Marine Corps, reaching the rank of major and working as a tactical flight instructor.
He ran an adventure flight company in Australia after leaving the Marines, then moved to Beijing in about 2014, company records show.
China’s foreign ministry has denied any knowledge of the employment of British pilots after media in the UK reported more than 30 pilots had accepted lucrative offers to train China’s military.