Former US fighter pilot who worked in China arrested in Australia

Publish: 4:39 PM, October 25, 2022 | Update: 4:39:PM, October 25, 2022

Australia has arrested a former US Marine Corps fighter pilot following a request from Washington, officials in Canberra said Tuesday, as Western governments scrambled to investigate reports that China has been poaching retired military personnel.

Daniel Edmund Duggan appeared in court in New South Wales on Friday, judicial records show.

“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.”

Duggan is scheduled to appear in court again in November.

Under a treaty with Australia, the United States has 60 days following the arrest to apply for Duggan’s extradition.

Duggan ran a business called Top Gun Australia, which billed itself as the country’s “premier adventure flight company”.

On the company’s web page, Duggan described himself as a “former US Marine Corps officer of over 12 years”.

“As a highly trained fighter pilot, he flew harrier jump jets off of aircraft carriers tactically around the globe,” the website read.

Duggan has also worked in China.

Australia launched an investigation last week into what its defence minister called disturbing reports that China has been hiring retired Western air force pilots to train its military.

The British government has said it will take “decisive steps” to stop Beijing from headhunting former pilots after local media reported more than 30 had accepted offers worth upwards of o240,000 ($273,750) to train China’s air force.