Detained ex pilot’s family ‘boxed into corner’ by US

Daniel Duggan posing with three of his children outside their primary school shortly before his surprise arrest in October 2022 in Orange

Daniel Duggan posing with three of his children outside their primary school shortly before his surprise arrest in October 2022 in Orange Photo: AAP

The wife of a man who has spent more than a year in jail facing extradition for allegedly training Chinese pilots says the United States government has his family boxed into a corner as they search for funding for his legal defence.

Daniel Edmund Duggan was arrested on an extradition warrant at a supermarket car park in the NSW central west in October 2022 at the request of US authorities.

His wife Saffrine Duggan’s plan to sell a property on the NSW south coast to fund her husband’s legal defence was rejected by a court in December, despite Australian Federal Police admitting they mistakenly identified Duggan as the director of the company that owned it.

Justice Nicholas Chen said the admitted errors were at most of “peripheral evidential relevance”.

Ms Duggan said the family now had to look elsewhere to afford lawyers.

“The US government has boxed us into a corner with no care for the rights of our Australian family,” she said in a statement.

“This cruel treatment of my husband and the cavalier move to make sure we cannot properly defend Dan is a direct attack on Australian sovereignty and our justice system by the US government.

The 55-year-old former US military pilot, who became an Australian citizen in 2012, is accused of breaching US arms trafficking laws by training Chinese pilots while working at a South African flight school in the early 2010s.

The father of six denies the allegation.

The family protested his extradition outside the US embassy in Canberra in April.

They have been dealing with an extreme financial, psychological and emotional toll as he remains in custody, Ms Duggan said.

“We are only allowed to visit Dan for one hour every Sunday, in itself a return drive of more than three hours,” she said. “We now have to go through the lengthy process of applying for legal aid and reshaping our legal team and defence, in light of all these events,” she said.

The civil action that restrained the Saddleback Mountain property returns to the NSW Supreme Court for a brief directions hearing on Monday.

Duggan is due to face an extradition hearing before a local court magistrate later this year.

The office of Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus declined to comment on Mr Duggan’s legal aid application “as a matter of long-standing practice”, or on the ongoing extradition matter.


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