Former US Marine pilot arrested in Australia was collaborating with Chinese hackers, lawyer says

Former US Marine pilot arrested in Australia was collaborating with Chinese hackers, lawyer says

A former US Marine pilot fighting extradition from Australia on US charges of training Chinese military pilots to land on aircraft carriers was unknowingly colluding with Chinese hackers, his lawyer has revealed.

Daniel Duggan, 55, a naturalized Australian, feared requests for classified information by Western intelligence agencies would put his family at risk, his lawyer said in legal filings seen by Reuters. .

The lawyer’s filing confirms a Reuters report linking Duggan to convicted Chinese defense hacker Su Bin.

Mr. Duggan denies allegations that he violated U.S. arms control laws. He has been held in a maximum security prison in Australia since his arrest in 2022 after returning from a six-year stint in Beijing.

Duggan’s lawyer, Bernard Collery, said in a March submission to Australia’s Attorney General Mark Dreyfus that U.S. authorities had discovered communications with Duggan on electronic devices seized from Su Bin. He said a magistrate judge would decide whether to extradite Duggan to the United States after hearing his extradition case.

The case will be heard in a Sydney court this month. Two years after his arrest in rural Australia, Britain was warning former military pilots not to work for China.

Su Bin, who was arrested in Canada in 2014, pleaded guilty in 2016 to hacking a major U.S. defense contractor and stealing designs for U.S. military aircraft. He is named among seven co-conspirators with Duggan in the extradition request.

Coralley wrote that Duggan knew that Su Bin was an employment broker for China’s national airline AVIC, and that the hacking incident was “completely unrelated to our client.”

Subin “may have had an inappropriate relationship with a (Chinese) agent, which was unknown to our client,” Duggan’s lawyers wrote.

“Overt contact with intelligence agencies”

AVIC was placed on the US blacklist last year as a Chinese military-related company.

Extradition documents filed by the United States in an Australian court show that messages retrieved from Subin’s electronic devices show that Subin paid for Duggan’s trip from Australia to Beijing in May 2012. .

Mr Duggan wanted Mr Subin to help him source parts for Chinese-made aircraft for the Top Gun tourist airline business in Australia, Mr Coralie wrote.

Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) and US Navy criminal investigators were aware that Mr Duggan was training AVIC pilots, and that he was trained in the Australian state of Tasmania in December 2012 and February 2013. met, his lawyer wrote.

ASIO and the US Naval Criminal Investigative Service did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment on the meeting. ASIO previously said it would not comment on the matter as it was before the courts.

“ASIO officials have indicated that Mr. Duggan may be able to collect sensitive information while continuing to conduct legitimate business activities in China,” his lawyers wrote.

Mr. Duggan immigrated to China in 2013 and was banned from leaving the country in 2014, his lawyer said. Duggan worked in China as an aviation consultant in 2013 and 2014, according to his LinkedIn profile and people in the aviation industry who know him.

He renounced his U.S. citizenship at the U.S. embassy in Beijing in 2016 following “open intelligence contact by U.S. authorities that may have jeopardized the safety of his family,” according to a certificate dated back to 2012, his lawyer said. is writing.

His lawyers have opposed extradition, arguing there is no evidence that the Chinese pilots he trained were military personnel and that he had become an Australian citizen in January 2012, before the charges were filed. .

The U.S. government maintains that Duggan did not lose his U.S. citizenship until 2016.


Prateek Chakraborty

date of issue:

May 13, 2024

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