Daniel Duggan can be extradited to the United States, says Australian judge

Australia can hand over a former US marine wanted by Washington, a Sydney magistrate has ruled.

Daniel Duggan, 55, a naturalized Australian citizen, is accused of violating US arms control laws by training Chinese fighter pilots.

He has been detained in Australia since 2022. He denies the charges, which his lawyer has previously described as politically motivated.

It is now up to the Australian attorney general to decide whether the extradition should go ahead. Duggan’s legal team is expected to file an appeal, although he did not challenge Friday’s court ruling.

“We respectfully ask the attorney general to re-examine this case and bring my husband home,” Mr. Duggan’s wife, Saffrine, told a gathering of journalists and supporters outside the court.

The attorney general’s office told local media that the government did not comment on extradition matters.

Mr. Duggan’s eligibility to surrender to the United States was decided by Magistrate Daniel Reiss, who ordered the father of six to remain in custody. He has been held in a maximum security prison since his arrest in October 2022.

His daughter Molly said the ruling amounted to a “death sentence” and criticized the isolation her father experienced while incarcerated.

Duggan spent 12 years as a pilot in the Marine Corps, before moving to Australia in 2002. There he changed careers and obtained citizenship, later renouncing his US citizenship. He also spent several years living in China.

His alleged training of Chinese military pilots occurred more than a decade ago at an academy in South Africa. US officials say it took place without his permission.

But Duggan’s lawyers have previously argued that there is no evidence that the pilots he trained were military, Reuters news agency reports. They also say Duggan was no longer a U.S. citizen when the alleged crime occurred, something the United States disputes.

Duggan’s case has led countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom to warn their air force personnel against accepting lucrative contracts for foreign powers.

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