A former US fighter pilot, who was arrested on Washington's request on Friday in a rural New South Wales town in Australia, faces extradition. Nothing has been stated about the charges Daniel Edmund Duggan faces. The US and Australian authorities have both declined to comment further and details of the charges have been sealed.
A spokesman for the Federal Attorney-General's Department in a written statement said the individual was arrested on October 21 pursuant to a request from the United States of America for their provisional arrest. "As the matter is before the courts, it would be inappropriate to comment further."
In the same week, Britain warned its former military pilots to stop working in China or face prosecution on national security grounds under new laws. Australia is also looking into reports about some of its former fighter pilots being approached to work in China.
Duggan Worked in China
Duggan worked in the US Marine Corps for more than a decade, reached the rank of Major and worked as a military tactical flight instructor. After leaving the Marines, he moved to Australia where a company listed him as a director in an "adventure flight" company called Top Gun Australia between 2005 and 2014. According to its official website, the company operated an initial military training aircraft of the Chinese Air Force known as a Nanchang fighter jet. It said the Nanchang aircraft are maintained to the same high standard using the maintenance systems used by the Chinese Air Force.
Duggan moved to Beijing, China, in 2014. He worked for a company doing cockpit resource management (CRM) training to improve flight safety. Duggan is regarded as a skilled pilot who had flown the Harrier jump jet in an exchange with the Spanish navy.
An ex-Marine who has known Duggan for nearly 20-years said Duggan was a retired instructor, trained flight crew in China before his arrest. He pointed out that it is well known that Chinese companies had been recruiting military fliers. But he cannot come around as to why Duggan has been targeted and arrested. "I can't imagine what secrets he would have, that he would pass along, that would have caused him this much trouble," the ex-Marine, who works for a commercial airline said. "I think the China work was pretty well known by most ex-military pilots. I would have first heard about it well over 10 years ago." However, this bit has recently hit the news.
Duggan is also said to have run the Flying Kangaroo, an aviation-themed dive bar in Chaoyang.
China Poaching Retired Military Pilots
China has been time and again accused of poaching retired pilots to get "inside information" into foreign military ware and technology. The Australian and British governments have expressed concerns about Beijing poaching retired pilots to train China's air force in Western military techniques.
As such, the British defence ministry said it's taking decisive steps to stop Chinese recruitment schemes attempting to headhunt serving and former UK Armed Forces pilots to train People's Liberation Army personnel. More than 30 pilots, as per British media reports, have accepted lucrative offers to train China's military.
However, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said there is nothing as such.