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US Marine pilot arrested in Australia allegedly collaborated with Chinese hacker

US Marine pilot arrested in Australia allegedly collaborated with Chinese hacker

US Marine pilot arrested in Australia allegedly collaborated with Chinese hacker

US Marine pilot arrested in Australia allegedly collaborated with Chinese hacker

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  • Duggan’s lawyer, Bernard Collaery, claims Duggan unknowingly worked with a Chinese hacker.
  • He moved to China in 2013 and authorities barred him from leaving the country in 2014.
  • Duggan renounced his US citizenship in 2016 at the US embassy in Beijing, backdated to 2012 on a certificate.
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In a legal filing seen by Reuters, the lawyer of Daniel Duggan, 55, a former US Marine pilot fighting extradition from Australia on US charges of training Chinese military pilots to land on aircraft carriers, stated that Duggan unknowingly worked with a Chinese hacker. As a naturalized Australian citizen, Duggan expressed concern that requests by Western intelligence agencies for sensitive information were jeopardizing his family’s safety. Moreover, the lawyer’s filing supports Reuters’ reporting, which connects Duggan to convicted Chinese defense hacker Su Bin.

In a March submission to Australian Attorney General Mark Dreyfus, Duggan’s lawyer Bernard Collaery stated unequivocally that Duggan denies the allegations of breaking US arms control laws. Additionally, Collaery mentioned that US authorities found correspondence with Duggan on electronic devices seized from Su Bin. Duggan, who has been in an Australian maximum-security prison since his 2022 arrest after returning from six years working in Beijing, awaits a magistrate hearing his extradition case, after which Dreyfus will decide whether to surrender him to the US.

The Sydney court will hear the case this month, two years after Duggan’s arrest in rural Australia, coinciding with Britain’s warning to its former military pilots against working for China. Su Bin, arrested in Canada in 2014, pleaded guilty in 2016 to the theft of US military aircraft designs by hacking major US defense contractors. The extradition request lists him among seven co-conspirators with Duggan.

Lawyer Collaery’s writing states that Duggan knew Su Bin as an employment broker for the Chinese state aviation company AVIC, and described the hacking case as “totally unrelated to our client. “Duggan’s lawyer wrote that while Su Bin “may have had improper connections to (Chinese) agents,” this was unknown to their client.

According to extradition documents lodged by the United States with the Australian court, messages retrieved from Su Bin’s electronic devices indicate that he paid for Duggan’s travel from Australia to Beijing in May 2012. Duggan, Collaery wrote, asked Su Bin to help source Chinese aircraft parts for his Top Gun tourist flight business in Australia. The US blacklisted AVIC, a Chinese military-linked company, last year.

According to his lawyer, ASIO, and US Navy, criminal investigators knew that Duggan was training pilots for AVIC and met him in Australia’s Tasmania state in December 2012 and February 2013. Requests for comment on the meetings made by Reuters to ASIO and the US Navy Criminal Investigation Service went unanswered. ASIO has previously stated that it would not comment as the matter was before the court.

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“An ASIO officer suggested that while carrying on his legitimate business operations in China, Mr.Duggan may be able to gather sensitive information,” his lawyer wrote.

According to his lawyer, Duggan moved to China in 2013 and was barred from leaving the country in 2014. Duggan’s LinkedIn profile and aviation sources who knew him stated that he was working in China as an aviation consultant in 2013 and 2014.

His lawyer wrote that Duggan renounced his US citizenship in 2016 at the US embassy in Beijing, backdated to 2012 on a certificate, after “overt intelligence contact by US authorities that may have compromised his family safety.

His lawyers oppose extradition, arguing that there is no evidence the Chinese pilots he trained were military and that he became an Australian citizen in January 2012, before the alleged offenses occurred.

The United States government has argued that Duggan did not lose his US citizenship until 2016.

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