Alleged Former Marine Pilot Arrested Under US Sealed Warrant in Australia

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An alleged former U.S. Marine fighter pilot and flight instructor has been arrested in Australia after a warrant was issued by the United States for his provisional arrest.

Reuters reported that Australian Federal Police (AFP) arrested Daniel Edmund Duggan, 54, on Oct. 21 in the rural town of Orange in New South Wales, with judicial records showing he appeared in court there on the same day where his application for bail was denied.

“An individual was arrested on 21 October 2022 pursuant to a request from the United States of America for their provisional arrest,” the Australian attorney general’s department said in a statement.

“As the matter is before the courts, it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

It is not known what Duggan is alleged to have done as the court documents, arrest warrant and charges have been sealed.

The former Marine is expected to face extradition proceedings to the United States sometime in November in Sydney, with the United States having just 60 days to apply for extradition after the arrest has been actioned.

Reuters also alleged that Duggan operated an adventure flight and company in Australia called Top Gun Australia before working as an aviation consultant in China, which, according to its website, specializes in providing adventures and unique flying experiences in an ex-military fighter jet or a World War II-era plane.

Duggan, who is listed on the website as the company’s chief pilot and managing director, is alleged to be a former major in the U.S. Marine Corps who served in the Persian Gulf during operations in Kuwait and spent time in the Spanish Navy.

It also alleges he has experience flying a range of military aircraft, including the AV-8B Harrier “Jump Jet,” T2C Buckeye, A4J “Skyhawk, Hawks, and Mig29, was a senior tactical instructor trained in weapons and tactics, air combat, and low-altitude flying and has been contracted as a military tactical instructor and consultant.

According to Duggan’s LinkedIn profile, since 2015, he has been operating aviation consultancy companies in Qingdao, China.

Australia Investigating Reports Former Pilots Training Chinese Pilots

The report of the arrest of the former military pilot comes after Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles launched an investigation into allegations from the BBC that Beijing has been headhunting former and serving members.

The BBC reported that the U.K. Ministry of Defence (MOD) had issued an intelligence alert after up to 30 former U.K. military pilots were believed to have been recruited by the Chinese regime to train members of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

Two Chinese SU-30 fighter jets
Two Chinese SU-30 fighter jets take off from an unspecified location to fly a patrol over the South China Sea in a file photo. (Jin Danhua/Xinhua via AP)

The BBC alleges that the U.K. government became aware of the recruitment drive targeting military pilots who have experience on fast jets—like the Typhoon, Jaguar, Harrier, and Tornado—and helicopters in 2019 and that Beijing had ramped up its efforts recently with current serving personnel being targeted.

The training is alleged to have been completed in South Africa, with the U.K. MOD noting to the press that other allied nations have also been targeted.

It is believed the Chinese regime’s recruitment drive is to help PLA fighter pilots understand how Western forces operate, which could be crucial in any conflict between the West and China.

In an email to The Epoch Times, Marles said that he had “asked the [defense] department to investigate these claims and come back to my office with clear advice on this matter.”

“When our ADF personnel sign up to the Defence Force, they do so to serve their country, and we are deeply grateful of that,” he said. “I would be deeply shocked and disturbed to hear that there were personnel who were being lured by a paycheck from a foreign state above serving their own country.”

Epoch Times Photo
Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles attends a press conference in Brest, France, on Sept. 1, 2022. (Jean-Francois Monier/AFP via Getty Images)

UK to Introduce Laws to Stop Intelligence Leaks

The Australian defense minister’s request for the investigation comes as the U.K.’s Minister of Armed Forces and Veterans, James Heappey, said the U.K. government would be looking to introduce new laws that would ensure retired defense members did not pass on intelligence to countries in the future.

“It certainly doesn’t match my understanding of service of our nation—even in retirement—to then go and work with a foreign power, especially one that challenges the U.K. interest so keenly,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today program.

Meanwhile, a MOD spokesperson said: “We are taking decisive steps to stop Chinese recruitment schemes attempting to headhunt serving and former U.K. armed forces pilots to train People’s Liberation Army personnel in the People’s Republic of China.”

“All serving and former personnel are already subject to the Official Secrets Act, and we are reviewing the use of confidentiality contracts and non-disclosure agreements across Defence, while the new National Security Bill will create additional tools to tackle contemporary security challenges—including this one,” the spokesperson said.

Victoria Kelly-Clark

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Victoria Kelly-Clark is an Australian based reporter who focuses on national politics and the geopolitical environment in the Asia-pacific region, the Middle East and Central Asia.



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