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Former US pilot fighting extradition held in 'inhumane' conditions, court told

A psychologist has described as "inhumane" the conditions in which a former US marine pilot is being held on remand as he fights extradition from Australia. 

Daniel Edmund Duggan, 54, has been in custody since he 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. 

Downing Centre Local Court today heard a window of time in which the attorney-general might issue a notice exercising his discretion under the Extradition Act would expire on Christmas Day.

Barrister Trent Glover, representing the United States, told the magistrate if the notice was not issued, there was an "administrative process" which would permit Mr Duggan to be released from custody.

Mr Duggan's lawyer, Dennis Miralis, told the court the matter was in what could colloquially be referred to as "extra time" because his client had been in custody for 60 days as of Tuesday — a "guillotine date" that usually triggered release.

He repeated previous concerns that Mr Duggan had been classified as a "high-risk inmate" and said he had been "kept in the dark" since his arrest.

Mr Miralis told Magistrate Robert Williams his client was visited by a psychologist and "had his conditions described as inhumane in a psychologist's report".

That psychologist also raised the possibility of "urgent pharmacological intervention" if things did not improve, the court heard.

The inspector-general of intelligence and security is investigating Mr Duggan's matter.

Magistrate Robert Williams adjourned the case until January 10, after agreement between the parties.

Outside court, Mr Miralis said his client would ordinarily have been released after 60 days, but he had been informed the indictment was unsealed late.

He said it remained unclear whether the indictment forming the basis of the extradition request was the same as a 2017 indictment unsealed in the US.

He said he would see the relevant indictment after the attorney-general made a decision and the court would only have jurisdiction if the attorney-general issued a notice between now and December 25.

"The relevance of the section 16 notice is that the attorney-general, having considered the request, is satisfied that his discretion should be exercised in favour of accepting extradition request, which also means that he needs to consider reasons why the extradition request should not be accepted," he said.

Mr Miralis said he had provided many reasons why the request should not be accepted, including that it was "doomed to fail".

He said dual criminality would not be met and his client would have the ability to raise a political objection due to the nature of the alleged offences, which were intended to preserve America's political and geo-political interests.

"We've also informed the attorney-general one of the reasons why he should not exercise his discretion is because the inspector-general of intelligence is conducting an independent investigation which has commenced in relation to Mr Duggan's circumstances," he said.

Those circumstances related to Mr Duggan's interactions with Australian intelligence prior to his departure for China, in China and after his time in China, all of which was relevant, he said.

Mr Miralis said if no section 16 notice was issued, Mr Duggan would be released.

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