Last Updated on November 6, 2022
Former U.S. Marine Corps AV-8b Harrier II fighter pilot, Daniel Duggan, 54, was arrested in Orange, New South Wales, Australia, on October 21st because of his business dealings in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) with Steven Su, a Chinese businessman and hacker. Reuters recently reported that Canada, France, and Australia are now investigating whether the PLA has recruited their pilots for consultation after military discharge.
Australia federal Police took him into custody at Washington D.C.’s request and he is currently awaiting extradition to the United States, pending his next court case in November.
Duggan was moved to a high-security prison in the Australian state of New South Wales.
Steven Su previously pleaded guilty to hacking the computer networks of U.S. defense contractors and the transmission of “sensitive” data back to China. Su and Duggan used the same physical address in China, but it is unknown if they were there at the same time.
According to two aviation sources, Duggan went to Beijing to work with Steven Su, a Chinese businessman and “hacker.” Duggan’s LinkedIn profile states he’s worked in Qingdao, China since 2017.
Duggan used the same address in China as Su, according to a report. His lawyer made a statement on behalf of the former pilot which denies “having breached any U.S. law, any Australian law, any international law.”
The United Kingdom recently warned dozens of military pilots from working in China or else face prosecution. The UK states that retired military pilots are high-value targets for China, who lures them with lucrative contracts.
After they arrive, they are requested to train and share their expertise with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the PRC, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The U.S. Navy stated it was unaware the arrest was imminent and like the Air Force, asserted they were not aware of former pilots “working with the Chinese.”
Former U.S. Navy Captain, Bill Hamblet, who is the Editor-in-Chief of the U.S. Naval Institute’s magazine, Proceedings, made a statement about the phenomenon of PLA recruitment of Western fighter pilot expertise.
“I can’t imagine that [China] would only hire one American to provide advice to them. Do they have their tentacles into former submariners, former surface warfare officers or those in other warfare areas? I have no idea,” Hamblet said. “But I’d imagine that if they’ve hired one American military pilot they’ve hired a cadre of them. The chances that this guy hasn’t helped them hire others would seem limited.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) may have been the agency which issued his arrest warrant, as an unnamed “aviation source” asserted that the FBI is interested in Duggan.
“It’s unseemly for someone to have done this, particularly anyone who’s served in the U.S. military in the last decade or so, thinking about what China is up to. In my opinion, it indicated a pretty low level of professional ethics,” Hamblet added.
Under the extradition treaty between the United States and Australia, the U.S. government has 60 days from the time of Duggan’s arrest to make an extradition request.