Ex-U.S. pilot held in Australia faces U.S. charges over Chinese military pilot training

SYDNEY, Dec 13 (Reuters) – Daniel Duggan, a former U.S. Marine pilot detained in Australia, is facing unsealed indictment in a U.S. court for violating U.S. arms control laws by training Chinese military pilots to land on aircraft carriers.

A 2017 indictment said Duggan “provided military training to PRC (People’s Republic of China) pilots” through a South African flight school on three occasions in 2010 and 2012.

It lists unnamed co-conspirators, including one South African and one British national, who are executives of a “test flying academy based in South Africa with a presence in the PRC” and a Chinese national who obtained military information for the Chinese military.

In the same week that Duggan was arrested in Australia, Britain announced a crackdown on its ex-military pilots working to train Chinese military flyers.

Duggan was temporarily detained by Australian police in the rural town of Orange at the request of the US government in October, pending an extradition request from the United States.

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Duggan’s lawyer, Dennis Miralis of Australian law firm Neiman Gibson Miralis, did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on the indictment.

He has previously said Duggan has not broken any laws and is an Australian citizen who renounced his US citizenship. Read more

A District of Columbia court on Friday quashed the indictment and the US warrant for Duggan.

Duggan was directly contracted by an unnamed Chinese national to provide services to a Chinese state-owned company, including evaluation of Chinese military pilot trainees, testing of naval aviation-related equipment and instruction on techniques for landing aircraft on aircraft carriers, the indictment said.

Duggan was not authorized by the United States government to provide military training to China, although the US State Department informed him in a 2008 email that it was needed to train foreign air forces, it said.

The indictment alleges that he frequently traveled between Australia, the United States, China and South Africa between 2009 and 2012, when he was a US citizen and an Australian citizen.

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It said Duggan violated an arms embargo the United States imposed on China, including providing aviation services in China in 2010 and providing an assessment of China’s aircraft carrier training.

The indictment alleges that a Chinese national brokered a deal between a South African flight school and a Chinese state-owned enterprise to provide aircraft carrier landing training to Chinese military pilots in South Africa and China.

A T-2 Buckeye aircraft was purchased from a US aircraft dealer for this training, it said, providing the US government with an export license by providing false information.

Duggan faces four charges, including conspiracy to illegally export defense services to China, conspiracy to launder money, and two counts of conspiracy to defraud the United States in violation of the Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

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Duggan remains in custody in Sydney and his case is due back in a Sydney court this week. The United States must submit an extradition request to Duggan by Dec. 20 under a bilateral agreement.

Duggan moved to Australia in 2002 after a decade in the US Marines, then moved to Beijing in 2014, where he worked as an aviation consultant. According to his lawyer, he returned to Australia from China weeks before his arrest.

Reuters previously reported that Duggan shared a Beijing address with Chinese businessman Su Bin in 2014, who was arrested in Canada in July 2014 and sentenced to prison in the United States two years later. Theft of US military aircraft designs. Read more

Reporting by Kirsty Needham in Sydney and Michael Martina in Washington; Edited by Howard Goller and Michael Perry

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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