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The New Daily
The New Daily
Miklos Bolza

Ex-pilot possibly ‘lured’ to Australia for extradition

Former US pilot has been detained in maximum security. Photo:AAP

A former US pilot could have been “lured” back to Australia with a job offer before his arrest and a subsequent extradition bid by the US government.

Speaking outside Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court on Monday, lawyer Dennis Miralis said Daniel Edmund Duggan had received security clearance to receive an aviation licence and return from China to work in Australia in 2022.

A few days after his arrival, the clearance granted by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation was removed.

“It’s striking to us that a sequence of events like that could occur,” Mr Miralis told reporters.

“We are exploring at this stage whether he was lured back to Australia by the US where the US knew he would be in a jurisdiction where he would be capable of being extradited back.”

Such lures, including manipulation of security clearances, were legal under US law, Mr Miralis said.

The 54-year-old and his legal team have made requests for documents from numerous government agencies, including ASIO and the Australian Federal Police, in order to determine whether the case was brought on a proper legal basis.

“We require the information to be able to ensure the whole process of his return to Australia was not done in a way inconsistent with law and not done in a way which breaches his human rights, legal rights under Australian law and international law,” Mr Miralis said.

On Friday, Duggan was moved from Silverwater remand centre to Lithgow’s maximum security prison without explanation, his lawyer claimed.

Mr Miralis said his client was under enormous mental and emotional pressure behind bars, worried about his family, the risk that he may not receive a fair trial in the US and that his safety could not be assured if he was imprisoned there.

“This is continuing to take a huge toll on him. This is something that without a doubt consumes him,” the lawyer said.

Duggan’s family has been unable to access legal aid and has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help cover his expenses in defending the case.

He has also filed a complaint with the United Nations Human Rights Commission regarding alleged breaches of his rights while in custody.

“He still is placed in segregation. He’s still placed in maximum security. We still have not received one response from the corrective services minister explaining why he’s kept under these conditions,” Mr Miralis said.

A decision denying access to material relating to these reasons would be appealed as they were crucial to any future bail bid Duggan would make, the lawyer said.

The former marine is accused of illegally aiding China by training pilots for the state government’s military. He has denied the charges.

Federal Police are also investigating whether former British pilot Keith Hartley assisted Chinese pilots at a flying school in South Africa.

Mr Hartley has not been charged and has filed a lawsuit in the Federal Court challenging the validity of a search warrant and seeking the return of items seized following a raid at his home in November last year.

A Local Court magistrate will ultimately hear submissions on whether Duggan is eligible for extradition to the US.

On Monday, Magistrate Greg Grogin rejected a plea by lawyer Trent Glover, representing the US, to schedule a hearing date after Mr Miralis requested more time to obtain documents from government agencies and appeal any decisions denying access to these materials.

“It’s a very important decision. A man’s liberty is at stake here,” Mr Grogin said.

The matter will next come back before the court on May 1.


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