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Family of ex-pilot Dan Duggan makes plea to NSW premier

Dan Duggan's conditions had deteriorated since being moved to a new prison, his wife said.

Dan Duggan's conditions had deteriorated since being moved to a new prison, his wife said. Photo: Duggan family/AAP

The wife of a former US pilot facing possible extradition to the United States for unlawfully training Chinese pilots has asked the NSW premier for help after her husband was transferred to another prison.

Ex-fighter pilot Daniel Duggan spent 19 months in the maximum-security prison at Lithgow before a magistrate ruled him eligible for extradition in May.

He has since been transferred to Macquarie Correctional Centre in Wellington weeks before federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus determines whether he should be surrendered to the US.

On Friday, his wife Saffrine Duggan sent a letter to NSW Premier Chris Minns saying the ex-pilot’s conditions had “significantly deteriorated” and he was further away from his family and legal team.

“I can only assume this is a mistake … which you can remedy as a matter of urgency given the horrendous impact it has had on my family,” she wrote.

Because of the transfer, Duggan had lost access to a computer to prepare his case for the attorney-general and meetings with his legal team had been “cancelled, delayed and changed,” she said.

On Tuesday, after visiting her husband at the prison in the state’s central west, Ms Duggan reiterated that she and the couple’s children “want Dan home”.

“Dan needs the ability to defend himself and fight for his freedom without all these barriers being put up to waste our precious time,” she told AAP.

Minns’ office directed queries about Duggan’s status to Corrective Services NSW, whose spokeswoman said inmates were transferred between prisons for many reasons, including changes in classification, bed availability, access to programs or operational needs.

With almost 13,000 inmates, the needs of individuals could not always be facilitated, she said.

However, the spokeswoman said each inmate was entitled to regular access to legal services via scheduled phone calls and remote audio-visual visits.

“Any suggestion an inmate would have access to their legal services restricted is untrue,” she said.

Duggan was arrested in Australia in October 2022 at the behest of the US after being accused of breaching arms-trafficking laws by providing military training to Chinese pilots in South Africa between 2010 and 2012.

He allegedly received about $100,000 for his services.

In a prison letter, Duggan said he believed his activities were lawful and that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the US Naval Central Intelligence Service knew of his work.

Ms Duggan has presented a petition with 25,000 signatures to politicians in Canberra, calling on Dreyfus to release her husband and end his extradition.

Meanwhile, the US and other “Five Eyes” countries on Thursday warned western pilots about training the Chinese military.

“Western recruits who train the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) may increase the risk of future conflict by reducing our deterrence capabilities,” said a public bulletin issued by the US, British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand intelligence services.

While Duggan was not named in the announcement, his wife said the timing was “highly suspect and political” and an attempt to influence the Australian government in its extradition decision.

-AAP

Topics: China
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