US pilot facing extradition drops request for key files

Former US pilot Daniel Duggan faces another six months in prison to await an extradition hearing.

Former US pilot Daniel Duggan faces another six months in prison to await an extradition hearing. Photo:AAP

Lawyers for a former pilot battling extradition to the US have dropped an attempt to access key defence and intelligence reports they have said would aid their client’s case.

Daniel Duggan, an Australian father of six and former US citizen, was arrested at a supermarket car park in central-west NSW in October 2022 after a request from US authorities.

He has denied breaching US arms export control laws by allegedly providing military training to Chinese pilots through a South African flight school on three occasions in 2010 and 2012.

In October, his legal team flagged an application to seek key documents from the Department of Defence and the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security to demonstrate the extradition request was based on political offences.

“Mr Duggan is no longer pressing the application … and confirmed those instructions yesterday,” the ex-pilot’s barrister, Tom Wood, told Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court on Friday.

The material previously sought was in relation to one report that Duggan’s legal team alleged was commissioned by Defence Minister Richard Marles.

The report was said to deal with the work of Australian military personnel for foreign governments, as well as US-Australian co-operation in his arrest and attempted extradition.

“I gather the other material that had been canvassed in earlier applications had been obtained, prepared or was no longer being sought,” Magistrate Daniel Reiss asked.

Mr Wood said his client’s argument against the extradition would focus on the political nature of the request.

“The history of the proceedings has been far from ideal,” Mr Reiss said, noting this was the second or third delay.

The magistrate added it was “even more regrettable” given Duggan remained in custody at Lithgow Correctional Centre.

His family and lawyers have said the former pilot is being held in solitary confinement with brief periods of reprieve.

Duggan’s extradition hearing was originally set for Friday, but it has been delayed until May 24 to allow time for submissions from both parties.

A request from the pilot’s legal team for an extension on that timing was rejected by the magistrate, saying that the proceedings had “dragged on”.

If convicted in the US, Duggan faces up to 60 years in prison. Australia does not have equivalent laws.


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