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Ex-top gun eligible for US extradition over China aid

A magistrate has ruled ex-US pilot Daniel Duggan eligible for extradition.

A magistrate has ruled ex-US pilot Daniel Duggan eligible for extradition. Photo: AAP

An ex-US fighter pilot and Australian citizen has been ruled eligible for extradition to his former home country for prosecution on allegations of unlawfully aiding the Chinese military.

Former top gun Daniel Duggan has spent 19 months in a maximum-security prison before Friday’s hearing in a Sydney court on the US extradition order.

Magistrate Daniel Reiss ruled him eligible for extradition on Friday afternoon after barrister Bret Walker SC told the court Duggan could not legally mount a defence.

Asked by the magistrate if Friday’s hearing would be contested, Walker told the court: “Not really, no.”

There was no argument to written material provided by lawyers for the US, he added.

The magistrate ordered Duggan be held in custody to await extradition under a temporary surrender warrant, an order he can appeal for review within 15 days.

Reiss noted the position from Duggan’s lawyers had “streamlined the considerations significantly”.

The 55-year-old was arrested in Australia 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, allegedly receiving about $100,000 for his services.

Duggan’s wife, children and supporters gathered outside Downing Centre Local Court before the extradition hearing to call for his freedom.

“This deliberate torture has to stop today,” Saffrine Duggan said.

Her husband has been kept in a maximum-security prison in solitary confinement, preparing his defence with handwritten notes, while her house has been seized and applications for Legal Aid were rejected, she said.

“They have done everything in their power to make this difficult for my family, to try to break Dan and to break us, but we will fight no matter what,” she said.

Duggan blew kisses and made heart gestures from the dock as the courtroom filled with supporters on Friday, some of whom were reminded about laws regarding contempt.

Some remained seated on the floor of the packed courtroom, while one man accused the magistrate of presiding over a “kangaroo court” before leaving the room.

The ex-pilot and his family argue the charges are politically motivated given the deterioration of Sino-American relations and how long ago the alleged actions occurred.

An April court bid failed to postpone the hearing after claims Duggan had racked up $800,000 in legal bills and was unable to fund his future defence.

In a prison letter seen by AAP, 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 Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus to release her husband and end his extradition.

Greens Senator David Shoebridge said he would table the petition in parliament.

“Our government should show some guts, our government should make it clear that being an Australian citizen matters, and that when another country comes for you, they’ll protect you as best they can … but we’ve seen none of that,” he said.

Dreyfus has been contacted for comment.

– AAP

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