Dan Duggan: Another Australian Citizen the US Is Questionably Seeking to Extradite

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Dan Duggan

NSW Magistrate Daniel Riess ruled on Thursday that Dan Duggan’s extradition hearing can’t be adjourned any longer in an effort to secure Legal Aid, as he considers the Australian has been “irresponsible” with his money, even though the state seized the chief asset to fund his case.

Duggan has been held in prolonged isolation since October 2022, when the father-of-six was taken into custody in his hometown of Orange in regional NSW, which his criminal defence lawyers maintain appears to have resulted in the former US Marine pilot having been illegally lured back to this country.

Australia has bent over backwards in facilitating the US request. The Albanese government has greenlighted extradition proceedings, it’s held the 55-year-old in custody without criminal charges being brought against him for close to 18 months and the AFP seized his wife’s property on behalf of Washington.

But why would the US, our closest ally, attempt to extradite Duggan, who served in the US Marines over the 13 years to 2002, if it wasn’t a legitimate gripe?

Well, the assertion is that as the AUKUS power are now immersed in a cold war buildup to potential war against China, many false flags, like the Duggan scenario, are now being planted to help stoke public support for such a conflict.

Indeed, as it appears now, Duggan is to face an extradition hearing in seven weeks, and the crimes he stands accused of, which carry up to 65 years, merely involve his having worked at a respected South African flight school circa 2010, and amongst those he trained were Chinese nationals.

Undermining the defence

“Now they’re in a position where they have no access to funds to lead the defence and to defend the extradition,” Duggan’s lawyer Jolan Draaisma told the Murdoch press on 4 April, out the front of the Downing Centre Local Court.

“I must say the United States put the family in this precarious situation, where the family had access to one asset, the US froze that asset, and because of that freezing, the family can’t sell the asset in order to fund their legal expenses.”

Duggan was applying for more time prior to his next hearing in late May, as he’s yet to obtain extra funding to defend his case against being sent to the US to stand trial in relation to having breached US arm control law in regard to a Chinese embargo, as well as for the crime of money laundering.

This last allegation is what led the United States to turn its attention towards a property in southern NSW with a half-built family home upon it. And the AFP placed a seizure order on the property, claiming it to be the purchased with the proceeds of crime based on false claims of the White House.

The NSW Supreme Court denied a challenge, which sought to prevent the seizure of the property on the basis that the US got it wrong, in December, as it was found not to belong to Dan, but rather his wife, Saffrine. Although, the court then found this detail to have “peripheral evidential relevance”.

Expert opinion

One thing that Duggan does have working for him is that esteemed barrister Bernard Collaery is batting for him in court.

And the ACT lawyer made a key point at the 4 April hearing, regarding two of the four substantive allegations against him, which, Collaery claims won’t stand up at trial, as they don’t pertain to Australian citizens like Dan.

“This man is an Australian citizen and could not be and cannot be tried for two of the counts,” said Collaery, who’s a whistleblower known to have fought the government and won. “The US has no right to prosecute an Australian citizen for something that isn’t an offence in Australia.”

And this triggers a key point that Greens Senator David Shoebridge raised in early 2023 in relation to Duggan’s matter, which is that attorney general Mark Dreyfus, who approved the extradition trial in December 2022, has never confirmed whether the offences involved are also crimes in this country.

This requirement is set out in the 1976 Treaty on Extradition between Australia and the US, which further refuses to permit extradition over crimes that are political, and Duggan’s lawyers contend that the charges he is facing, if nothing else, are political in nature.

The twilight courtroom

Collaery explained that his client had been “unreasonably truncated” by the seizure of the property, and whilst the application for legal aid funding might be in a grey area at the moment, it’s essential that the Australian citizen can mount a reasonable legal defence against being extradited.

Magistrate Riess, however, considered that perhaps the Duggans had mismanaged their funds, and his Honour went as far to suggest that as Dan is an intelligent man, he could potentially represent himself in this complex case, which could see him imprisoned for over six decades.

Another stark anomaly about the Duggan case is that the former marine arrived back in Australia from China in October 2022, where he’d been managing a flight consultancy in the Shandong province city of Qingdao, as he was notified that he’d been granted ASIO clearance for an ASIC card.

The Aviation Security Identification Card is much sought after as it allows pilots to work in Australian airports.

Yet, on returning to this country, Dan found the card was no longer on offer, then AFP officers arrested him, and ever since he’s been treated like a high-risk inmate who must be isolated.

Duggan also lodged a complaint with the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security, claiming that ASIO had used the false claim of an ASIC card awaiting him on return, in order to lure him back to the country to arrest him, which is a power that US spies have, but Australian ones don’t.

And just days before Duggan’s appearance in court on the 6th of last month, ASIO head Mike Burgess appeared on a Guardian podcast to outline that the IGIS had completed the inquiry into the Duggan matter and had cleared all his agents.

Although, on the day following the top spy’s on-air assertion, the #FreeDanDuggan campaign revealed that it too received had IGIS correspondence, which clearly stated that one “impropriety” on the part of ASIO had been identified, but as the report is classified, it remains unknown.

Sovereignty ceded

Whilst the activities set out in the Duggan indictment are much different to those the US charges WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with and, therefore, warrant his extradition, in terms of facilitating the two Australians extradition to the States, both cases share similar characteristics.

Both men are being extradited over matters that it’s claimed have been falsely framed as criminal. Both extraditions related to offences political in nature, yet the extradition treaties don’t permit this. And in each case, the Albanese government has done next to nothing to defend its citizen.

“My family has not been given the opportunity to have our voices properly heard or to defend the 12-year-old allegations that have been brought by a foreign power and defy commonsense, or even the slightest scrutiny,” said Saffrine Duggan, Dan’s wife, prior to her husband’s latest court hearing.

“To make matters worse, our government’s agents have now assisted the United States to confiscate my property, which has left me and the six children unable to properly mount Dan’s legal defence,” she said in concluding.

Please donate to the #Free Dan Duggan campaign to help assist the Australian father be returned to his six children

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Paul Gregoire

Paul Gregoire is a Sydney-based journalist and writer. He's the winner of the 2021 NSW Council for Civil Liberties Award For Excellence In Civil Liberties Journalism. Prior to Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, Paul wrote for VICE and was the news editor at Sydney’s City Hub.

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