Daniel Duggan loses bid to delay U.S. extradition trial

Daniel Duggan, a former US marine pilot who obtained Australian citizenship in 2012, is currently fighting extradition to the U.S.

At the request of U.S. authorities, Duggan was arrested by the Australian Federal Police on an extradition warrant on 21st October 2022. He is currently being held in solitary confinement in Lithgow’s maximum security prison. 

The warrant contains four charges: conspiracy to defraud the U.S. by conspiring to unlawfully export defense services to China, conspiracy to launder money and two counts of violating the arms export control act and international traffic in arms regulations.

These alleged charges relate to the time when Duggan was employed as a contractor by Test Flying Academy of South Africa between 2010 and 2012. Duggan strenously denies all charges contained in the indictment. If convicted, he faces up to 60 years in a U.S. high security prison, effectively a death sentence.1

Duggan’s latest hearing took place on 4th April 2024 in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court. Prior to this hearing, Duggan had spent 540 days behind bars in solitary confinement where he has been permitted to exercise in a small yard for only one hour per day.

This hearing primarily dealt with Duggan’s application to delay the extradition hearing scheduled for 24th May 2024. His legal team argued that extra time was needed for Legal Aid to process an application that Duggan had made for financial assistance. This action was taken after the Supreme Court acceded to a U.S. request to block the sale of the family’s property located on the NSW south coast. Consequently, the family’s plan to fund mounting legal costs by selling their sole asset has been effectively thwarted by this court order.

This latest hearing in the local court took place before Magistrate Daniel Reiss. Bernard Collaery represented Duggan while Tom Glover appeared on behalf of the U.S. government. Duggan joined the hearing on screen via the Internet. The Attorney-General’s Department was not represented on this occasion.

Throughout the hearing, much of the evidence presented by Duggan’s legal team was queried by the magistrate. For example, doubt was cast on the extent of Duggan’s legal expenses to date, purported to exceed $800,000. As well, stated campaign expenditure of $50,000 on media and communications consultants since Duggan’s arrest in October 2022 was criticised as “not a very cautious approach to reserving money” and “a bit irresponsible” under the circumstances.2

As well, Duggan’s legal team argued that the seizure of the property owned by Duggan’s wife, Saffrine Duggan, had jeapodised Duggan’s capacity to mount an adequate legal defence, including the retention of top barrister Bret Walker SC for the extradition hearing. In response, the magistrate said that Duggan was an intelligent man and had the capability of representing himself during his trial if necessary. Under this scenario, the inequality in legal capacity and resources between Duggan and the U.S. government would be extraordinary.

In his summing up, Magistrate Reiss stated that he was satisfied Duggan had been given a “reasonable opportunity” to prepare his defence and noted that the extradition hearing had already been postponed back in November 2023.3

As a result, Duggan’s application to have his trial further delayed was dismissed. Duggan’s next hearing to determine if he is eligible for extradition to the U.S. has been set down for 24th May 2024.

Photos: Saff & Dan Duggan and the Duggan family.

1. Duggan’s legal team has argued that the case against Dan Duggan is politically motivated. Also, in the hearing on 4th April 2024, Bernard Collaery argued that Duggan renounced his U.S. citizenship in 2012 when he became a naturalised Australian. As such, it was claimed that he was not a U.S. citizen at the time when two of the alleged offences in the U.S. indictment took place. Tom Glover, representing the U.S. government, contended that Duggan did not lose his U.S. citizenship until 2016. This is likely to be a key issue in Duggan’s forthcoming extradition trial.
2. Catie McLeod, ‘Daniel Duggan loses bid to delay US extradition case as judge questions his legal spending’, The Guardian, Apr 4th, 2024.
3. For an alternative view, refer to #FreeDanDuggan campaign website.

More information
– MPG post: ‘Daniel Duggan’s fight against extradition to the U.S.’, Mar 16, 2024.
Free Dan Duggan facebook page
#FreeDanDuggan campaign website

– Donations towards Dan Duggan’s legal expenses can be made via the #FreeDanDuggan campaign fundrising page.

– Saffrine Duggan from #FreeDanDuggan Campaign, ‘Release My Husband, Australian”DANIEL DUGGAN” and Refuse his Extradition to the US’ at change.org – petition still open. So far 23,821 signatures have been received. The petition’s target is 25,000 signatures.

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