Media Stories

AUKUS-trated justice

The fates of three Australians separately accused of offending the security establishment are being decided in the shadow of AUKUS

It’s never a good time to be accused of breaching national security laws but as the case of “top-gun” Australian pilot and former US marine, Dan Duggan, shows, that’s doubly so in the era of AUKUS, with Australia’s sovereignty well and truly on the line. 

Late last year the Duggan case was raised in Washington during hearings of the US Senate Foreign Relations committee. Coinciding with the second anniversary of the announcement of AUKUS, the high-powered senate committee was wrestling with a key hurdle in progressing the pact: how to ensure that US military secrets would not fall into Chinese hands. Senators cited the training of Chinese pilots and expressed their concern about the risk of secrets leaking out through the involvement of its AUKUS partners. They wanted to know what laws and regulations might be enacted by other countries. 

On this point senators received assurances from top-level US State department official Jessica Lewis. Lewis told senators that she had learned of a case involving an Australian pilot while on a visit to Australia for meetings between the US Secretary of State, Secretary of defence and Australian defence and foreign affairs ministers and officials. While not naming Duggan, Lewis referred to extradition moves being underway to deal with him under “our laws”.

14/05/2024 – Report by David Hardaker

Daniel Duggan: Daughter of a former US Marine 'Top Gun' military pilot fears her family's world will be torn apart if he's extradited to face accusations he shared secrets with China

The eldest child of a man locked up in isolation in a maximum security jail while facing possible extradition to America for allegedly sharing military secrets is losing hope that her dad will ever be the same again.

‘He’s been in maximum security for so long. 

‘Can you imagine being isolated like that for so long?

‘He’s not going to be the same person that he was before they took him.’ 

13/05/2024 – Report by Ashley Nickel

60 Minutes - Patriot Games

The former Top Gun fighter pilot accused of sharing military secrets with the Chinese. Hear from those close to the case.


12/05/2024 – Report by Dimity Clancey

Dan Duggan’s extradition. Lost in a geopolitical quagmire of laws and treaties?

Grounds on which Duggan’s extradition can be contested include the “double criminality” rule, in which Duggan – an Australian who renounced US citizenship in 2012 – cannot be extradited on charges arising from US laws that have no equivalent here. There’s also the argument Duggan faces “political charges” stemming from a 2017 chill in China-US relations which was five years away when Duggan trained Chinese pilots in 2011-12. One source added:

“Once the extradition gets [appealed] to the Federal Court, it’s likely that the charges, the extradition legislation, and the [Australia-US] treaty on which they rely won’t stand up to proper scrutiny.”

19/04/2024 – Report by Andrew Gardiner

Ex-Marine facing extradition in Australia says wasn't US citizen at time of offence

A former U.S. Marine Corps pilot facing extradition to the United States from Australia will argue he was no longer a U.S. citizen at the time of two of the alleged offences, which include training Chinese pilots, a Sydney court heard on Thursday.

His barrister Bernard Collaery told the court on Thursday that Duggan would argue he renounced his U.S. citizenship in January 2012 and was not a U.S. citizen at the time of two of the offences alleged in a U.S. indictment.

4/04/2024 – Report by Kirsty Needham

Top Gun pilot Daniel Duggan to face extradition hearing in May

A former US marine pilot will have one last chance to prove he shouldn’t be extradited to the US over allegations he illegally trained Chinese pilots – but he’s run out of funds to pay for a lawyer.

Mr Duggan has consistently denied the allegations, which have not been tested in court.

On Thursday, he looked anxious as he beamed into court from maximum security prison wearing black rimmed glasses and a green prison-issued jumper.

He then became visibly upset as Magistrate Daniel Reiss denied his application for an extension to prepare for a hearing to determine his eligibility for extradition to the US.

4/04/2024 – Report by Adelaide Lang

'Detained former pilot's family 'boxed into a corner'

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.

“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”…

19/02/2024 – Report by Jack Gramenz

'I miss my kids, I am heartbroken - Detained Orange father Daniel Duggan speaks from Lithgow Jail

The former American pilot turned Australian citizen who has been in custody for 14 months fighting extradition to the United States has spoken of his despair at being locked away from his wife and children in Orange, while saying allegations of “conspiracy” levelled against him are unfounded and politically motivated.

“I miss my kids, I’m heartbroken, I’m absolutely heartbroken”…

20/12/2023 – Report by William Davis

Daniel Duggan: federal agent ‘regrets’ incorrect evidence in ex-US military pilot case, NSW court hears

An Australian federal police officer has told the New South Wales supreme court he “regrets” providing it with incorrect evidence as part of a bid to intervene in the sale of a property that would fund the ex-US military pilot Daniel Duggan’s legal costs.

The AFP officer Simon Moore appeared before the NSW supreme court on Wednesday, where he was asked to explain why he had provided it with an affidavit in which he incorrectly named Duggan as the director of the company which owns the property.

The AFP did not notify the court of the error in Moore’s affidavit until after it received a letter from Duggan’s lawyers on 15 November alerting it to the inaccuracy.

29/11/2023 – Report by Catie McLeod

‘Extreme cruelty’: Top Gun pilot’s wife’s plea to Anthony Albanese

The wife of former Top Gun pilot Daniel Duggan has made a passionate plea for him to be released as his extradition hearing is delayed until next year.

Saffrine Duggan gathered with her children outside the Sydney Downing Centre courts to protest the “extreme act of violence and cruelty against my family”.

“Today we mark one year that my husband, and father to these six Australian children, has been locked away in solitary confinement based on 12-year-old allegations, unproven allegations that he flatly denies,” she said on Saturday.

23/10/2023 – Report by Angus McIntyre

Former US pilot accused of training China’s military speaks out for the first time

The phone rings. Then comes an automated message highlighting the gravity of the situation.

“You are about to receive a phone call from a correctional facility.

“The conversation will be recorded and may be monitored.”

Daniel Duggan, 54, says “Hello”. The Australian citizen and former US Marine pilot is calling from his maximum-security cell in New South Wales.

It’s the first time he’s spoken publicly. Talking to 7.30 comes with risk. His words could be used as evidence against him. He’s been in isolation for nine months.

Report by Angelique Donnellan

Australian ‘Top Gun’ accused of training Chinese is backed by US marine

A former high-ranking member of the United States military has thrown his support behind Daniel Duggan, an Australian citizen and former marine who is being held in maximum security over accusations he trained Chinese military pilots more than a decade ago.

In a letter written last week, retired marine colonel Ben Hancock said he had known Duggan for 25 years, including serving in the same squadron for two years, working closely on a six-month ship deployment, and being deployed in Kuwait.

He described Duggan as a “loyal patriot” and team player who served the US honourably and could be counted on in difficult circumstances.

Parliamentary plea for former pilot's prison release

A supporter of an Australian citizen facing extradition to the US on conspiracy charges has called for his release from prison in an emotional speech to parliament.

Mr Duggan’s wife Saffrine and his friend Warwick Ponder were on the floor of the Senate on Thursday during a speech by the Greens’ David Shoebridge urging the US to release him from custody, where he has been in solitary confinement.

“In the last few weeks, he’s seen the sky only a handful of times but has otherwise been locked up completely alone. There are grave concerns with Dan’s wellbeing,” Senator Shoebridge told parliament.

“How can he be extradited for something that isn’t even an offence in Australia and therefore fails the dual criminality test?”

Is the Attorney-General persecuting an Australian political prisoner under orders from Washington?

Since his arrest eight months ago, Duggan has been imprisoned under extremely harsh conditions, including ongoing solitary confinement, in a maximum-security prison in New South Wales. AAS has previously charged that the Albanese government is torturing Daniel Duggan at Washington’s behest.

Imprisoned pilot's human rights breached, family claims

Solitary confinement is among alleged human rights breaches against a former US military pilot held in a NSW prison as he awaits extradition proceedings.

A complaint to the NSW Ombudsman alleges Daniel Duggan, an Australian father and former US military pilot, was held in maximum security isolation for more than 230 days despite his lack of convictions or violence.

Prison operator Corrective Services NSW strongly denied the claim and said solitary confinement was illegal.

Wife of former US Marine accused of training Chinese military pilots by the US speaks out

Last October Australian authorities, acting on a request from the United States, arrested former Marine pilot Daniel Duggan for allegedly training pilots from the Chinese military. Duggan is being held in a maximum-security prison while he fights extradition to America.

This report by Angelique Donnellan and Xanthe Kleinig.

Fighter pilot's family 'crushed' over 86-day wait before court battle

Fighter pilot Daniel Duggan will spend at least 86 more days behind bars waiting to convince a court he should not be extradited to the United States until ASIO has been cleared of illegally luring him into handcuffs in Australia…

Glenn Kolomeitz, Kay Danes | Dan Duggan extradition would set concerning precedent

“Extreme high risk restricted” inmate. One could be forgiven for thinking this classification, afforded to some residents of our correctional establishments, is reserved for convicted terrorists or others sentenced for serious crimes.

One could similarly be forgiven for doubting this classification would be given to a family man with no criminal history, who has neither been convicted of nor charged with any offences and will not be charged with anything in this country.

Alas, one would be mistaken on both counts.

This was the classification of a naturalised Australian husband and father, a military veteran, and active member of a regional community who has been refused bail and is awaiting extradition to the United States on ill-defined and unlaid charges…

Daniel Duggan: investigation launched into imprisonment of Australian accused of training Chinese pilots

Australia’s inspector general of intelligence and security has launched a formal investigation into the ongoing incarceration of Daniel Duggan, the Australian pilot fighting a US extradition request from prison, over allegations he trained Chinese aviators.

Duggan’s legal team has called for his extradition proceeding to be immediately abandoned. The 54-year-old has been incarcerated – much of it in isolation – for 157 days since being arrested in Orange in New South Wales last October.

Lawyer Dennis Miralis, acting for Duggan, said the office of Australia’s inspector general of intelligence and security (IGIS) has informed him that, following a preliminary inquiry into Duggan’s complaint regarding the lawfulness of his detention, it had commenced a formal investigation under the IGIS Act

Daniel Duggan's lawyer says intelligence agency watchdog agency watchdog will investigate claims he was lured back to Australia

The nation’s intelligence agency watchdog is investigating the circumstances leading to former pilot Daniel Duggan’s arrest after claims he was “lured” back to Australia to be arrested and extradited to the United States.

On Monday, Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court heard concerns from Mr Duggan’s lawyers he had been lured back to Australia from China by US authorities, with the knowledge of Australian intelligence agencies, so he would be in a country where American authorities could launch extradition proceedings.

Spy watchdog launches inquiry into former ‘Top Gun’ pilot’s arrest

Former top gun pilot Daniel Duggan’s legal team is calling for his immediate release from a NSW prison after they were informed by the nation’s spy watchdog that it had launched a formal inquiry into the events leading up to his arrest.

Duggan is facing extradition to the United States after he was arrested by the Australian Federal Police in October at the request of American authorities, who accuse him of helping to train Chinese military pilots to fly fighter jets more than a decade ago.

Scroll to top