A Sydney court has decided to postpone the extradition hearing for Dan Duggan, a former U.S. military pilot accused of illegally training Chinese aviators. The hearing, originally scheduled for November 23, has been rescheduled for May. The court ruled that additional information from the Australian defense department and security agencies should be provided to the defense lawyers before proceeding.
Duggan’s lawyer, Dennis Miralis, emphasized the significance of the case for his client, who could face up to 65 years in prison if convicted. Duggan’s wife, Saffrine, has requested Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to advocate against the extradition, but Albanese stated that Duggan’s case was not on the agenda for his meetings with U.S. officials.
Duggan, who became an Australian citizen in 2012, has been in custody since October 2021 when he was arrested near his home in Orange, New South Wales. His grounds for resisting extradition include claiming that the prosecution is political and that the alleged crime does not exist under Australian law.
According to a 2016 indictment, Duggan is accused of conspiring with others to provide training to Chinese military pilots without the appropriate license. Prosecutors allege that Duggan received payments and international travel for this training. Duggan maintains that the pilots he trained were civilians and that nothing he taught was classified.
The extradition treaty between the United States and Australia states that a person can only be extradited for an allegation recognized as a crime by both countries. Duggan’s lawyers expect additional material to demonstrate the political aspects of the extradition request, claiming that he was lured by Australian authorities from China in 2022 to facilitate his arrest and extradition.
The case will continue to unfold as Duggan’s lawyers build their defense and await the rescheduled extradition hearing in May.