Australia has arrested a former U.S. Marine Corps fighter pilot following a request from Washington, officials in Canberra said Tuesday, as Western governments scrambled to investigate reports thatretired military personnel.
Daniel Edmund Duggan appeared in court in New South Wales on Friday, judicial records show.
“An individual was arrested on 21 October 2022 pursuant to a request from the United States of America for their provisional arrest,” the Australian attorney general’s department said in a statement. “As the matter is before the courts, it would not be appropriate to comment further.”
Duggan is scheduled to appear in court again in November.
An aviation source told Reuters that the FBI sought Duggan because he had worked in China. His lawyer told Reuters he could not comment.
Under a treaty with Australia, the United States has 60 days following the arrest to apply for Duggan’s extradition.
Duggan ran a business called Top Gun Australia, which billed itself as the country’s “premier adventure flight company.”
On the company’s web page, Duggan described himself as a “former U.S. Marine Corps officer of over 12 years.” He flew missions in support of Operation Southern Watch from Kuwait and the USS Boxer, the website says.
“As a highly trained fighter pilot, he flew harrier jump jets off of aircraft carriers tactically around the globe,” the website says.
Duggan also flew ex-military aircraft in Australian air shows, three pilots told Reuters.
Australia launched an investigation last week into what its defense minister called disturbing reports that China has been hiring retired Western air force pilots to train its military.
Last week, the U.K. government said it was takingagainst a Chinese recruitment effort to bring in former and serving British air force pilots to train its military personnel. While British military personnel frequently take part in training exercises with foreign armies, any collusion by ex-pilots with — which London has — poses a serious concern.
On Monday, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland accused China of interfering with the American justice system Monday as he announcedwho allegedly worked for Beijing’s spy agencies.
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