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ABC News

Former US marine pilot unfairly classified 'high-risk' in Australian prison, lawyer says

A former US marine pilot fighting extradition to the United States is being held in prison under the strictest conditions that may have resulted from foreign interference, his lawyer says.

Daniel Edmund Duggan is due to be transported to Goulburn's Supermax prison under a "high-risk" classification, defence lawyer Dennis Miralis today told the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney.

Mr Duggan was arrested in Orange on October 21, the same week the British government issued a rare warning about China's recruitment of retired military pilots. 

The 54-year-old's charges remain sealed after he was arrested at Washington's request, while his defence is also seeking details of the warrant to detain him.

Mr Miralis said it was unprecedented to have an Australian citizen with no criminal history placed on inmate restrictions akin to people who had been convicted of terrorist offences and multiple homicides. 

"In 22 years of practising criminal law with a specialisation in extradition I have yet to see something as remarkable as this," he said outside court. 

"We've been told the Australian Federal Police do not regard him as a risk, we've been told the attorney-general's department do not regard him as a risk.

"We are concerned that there may have been some foreign interference encouraging the corrective services minister to take this dramatic course of action."

Mr Miralis said Mr Duggan was a "proud Australian" and no longer held US citizenship.

The father of six was a "well-regarded" fighter jet pilot, according to a fellow former marine, and had recently worked in China training commercial flight crew. 

The US has until December 20 to formally apply for Mr Duggan's extradition otherwise he should be released from prison, the court was told. 

Barrister Trent Glover, representing the United States, said once the official extradition request was received Mr Duggan had three choices. 

Under the bilateral extradition treaty Mr Duggan can either waive the extradition, consent to it, or contest eligibility for surrender to the United States, Mr Glover said.

"This is an ordinary usual extradition process."

Mr Miralis said his client had been denied medical treatment and was unable to access pens to write a complaint to the attorney-general's department about his treatment on remand. 

The lawyer has filed a complaint about the conduct of Australian intelligence officers and said extradition should be put on hold until that had been resolved by Australia's intelligence watchdog.

Both the British and Australian governments have recently highlighted fears that Beijing has been poaching retired pilots to train China's air force.

The case is next due before court on December 16. 

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