Former U.S. Marine Corps fighter pilot who worked in China is arrested in Australia

Home » Former U.S. Marine Corps fighter pilot who worked in China is arrested in Australia
Former U.S. Marine Corps fighter pilot who worked in China is arrested in Australia

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 that China has been poaching retired 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 taking “decisive steps” against 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 China — which London has dubbed the “number one threat” to domestic and global security — poses a serious concern.

On Monday, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland accused China of interfering with the American justice system Monday as he announced indictments of 13 Chinese nationals who allegedly worked for Beijing’s spy agencies.

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