Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Ex-US Marine accused of helping China was lured to Australia

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According to The Straits Times, a former US Marine responsible with training Chinese pilots may have been ‘lured’ from China to Australia. His attorney accused Australia of enticing him to the nation in order to arrest him and then extradite him to the United States. Daniel Duggan, 54, is facing extradition to the US on allegations of violating US law by instructing Chinese military pilots on how to land on aircraft ships.

In October, he was detained by Australian federal police in a remote area in the state of New South Wales, shortly after returning from China, where he had lived since 2014. Police in Australia are looking into a former British military pilot who is accused of being involved in the training of Chinese military pilots at the Test Flying School of South Africa.

Outside court, Duggan’s lawyer Dennis Miralis stated that the pilot was given a security clearance by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (Asio) to begin a new aviation job before returning from China, but an arrest warrant was issued while he was on the plane back and his security clearance was revoked, according to The Straits Times. Miralis said that this clearance was quickly rescinded and questioned whether it was a “lure” granted just to persuade Duggan that it was safe to leave China.

“Manipulation of a security clearance to give a false sense that he was able to return to Australia, that’s a matter of grave significance,” Miralis said.

Previously, Britain had warned former defence personnel not to teach Chinese People’s Liberation Army pilots at a South African aviation college where Duggan had also worked.

Air Chief Marshal Michael Wigston of the United Kingdom stated earlier in March that intelligence services in Australia and the United Kingdom had shared material to warn pilots against working for China. Meanwhile, Duggan’s extradition hearing has been postponed until May while his attorneys seek papers from Australian government agencies for his defence, according to The Straits Times.

Duggan is an Australian citizen who has renounced his American citizenship and is being imprisoned in a maximum-security jail. He had lived in Australia for a decade and had six children there before relocating to China in 2014. Duggan was afraid that political tensions between the United States and China were hurting his case, according to Miralis.

China is apparently employing primarily pilots for contracts worth up to USD 270,000 per year through a South African firm called Test Flying School of South Africa (TFASA). China used TFASA to target persons with direct access to the most recent, highly guarded defence efforts. Apart from the United Kingdom, Australia has initiated an investigation into similar claims.

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