Australian Federal Police arrested Daniel Edmund Duggan, 54, on Oct. 21, 2022 in the rural town of Orange in New South Wales, and he appeared in court there on the same day, court records show and two police sources and his lawyer confirmed.
Duggan worked in China.
Two of the sources said that his lawyer appeared by video conference, and Duggan was denied bail and taken to the nearby Bathurst jail.
Duggan is a former US citizen and the federal police were acting on a US request for his arrest ahead of likely formal extradition proceedings, said one of the police sources, who was not authorised to speak publicly, SBS News reports.
Duggan’s next court appearance will be in Sydney in November to consider any bail application.
Details of the US arrest warrant and the charges he faces are sealed.
“An individual was arrested on 21 October 2022 pursuant to a request from the United States of America for their provisional arrest,” a spokesman for the federal Attorney-General’s Department said in a written statement to Reuters.
“As the matter is before the courts, it would not be appropriate to comment further.”
The arrest came the same week Britain warned dozens of former military pilots to stop working in China or face prosecution on national security grounds under new laws. Australia is also investigating reports some of its former fighter pilots have been approached to work in China.
An aviation source told Reuters that the FBI sought Duggan because of his work in China. After a decade in the US military Duggan moved to Australia and started a business called Top Gun Tasmania, hiring former US and British military pilots to offer tourists joyrides in fighter jets, company records show and aviation sources confirmed.
According to Reuters he also flew ex-military aircraft in Australian air shows.
He moved to Beijing in 2014 and soon after sold Top Gun Tasmania, filings in Australia for the company show.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Duggan has been working in Qingdao, China, since 2017 as the managing director of AVIBIZ Limited, described as “a comprehensive aviation consultancy company with a focus on the fast-growing and dynamic Chinese Aviation Industry”.
Hong Kong company records show AVIBIZ Limited was registered there by Australian passport holder Daniel Edmund Duggan in 2017 and dissolved in 2020.
Under Australia’s extradition treaty with the US, the US government will have 60 days to make an extradition request. The treaty allows Australian citizens to be extradited.
Photo credit: U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy
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