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Wife of former US pilot accused of training Chinese appeals to NSW leaders



The family of an Australian father accused of training Chinese military pilots and held in a maximum security prison has appealed to New South Wales political leaders ahead of the state election.

Daniel Duggan, 54, a former US Marines Corps pilot, was arrested in October last year near his family home in Orange, in NSW, and accused of providing military training to pilots working for China.

US authorities are seeking to extradite him and appeared in a Sydney court on Monday by video link from a prison cell for a brief hearing.

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The father of six has denied the allegations, saying they were "political" posturing by the US which unfairly singled him out.

His wife, Saffrine, today called on all NSW political parties to commit to placing her husband in home detention while he defends the hotly opposed extradition matter and farewells his dying 95-year-old mother, who suffered a stroke in Boston yesterday.

"Dan is no danger to anyone nor a flight risk, but he is in potential danger in prison with terrorists and other hardened criminals," Saffrine Duggan said.

"Surely this is not right.

"The way Dan is being treated in a NSW prison, under NSW law, is unprecedented and an affront to Australia's rule of law and manipulation of the Australian legal system by the United States, at the expense of the Australian taxpayer.

"The NSW government should not stand for this treatment of its citizens!"

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Voters in NSW will head to the polls on Saturday.

Ahead of his court hearing this week, Duggan was moved from Silverwater jail in Sydney to Lithgow maximum security prison.

His family said home detention would significantly lighten their financial and emotional burden.

"Dan's unfair treatment has resulted in a formal complaint to the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, and the United Nations Human Rights Committee," Saffrine Duggan said.

"It is unacceptable on every level and must stop now."

Born in Boston, Duggan served in the US Marines for 12 years before migrating to Australia in 2002.

In January 2012, he gained Australian citizenship, choosing to give up his US citizenship in the process.

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A 2016 indictment from the US District Court in Washington, DC, was unsealed late last year.

In it, prosecutors say Duggan conspired with others to provide training to Chinese military pilots in 2010 and 2012, and possibly at other times, without applying for an appropriate licence.

US prosecutors say Duggan received about nine payments totalling about $88,000 and international travel from another conspirator for what was sometimes described as "personal development training".

The indictment says Duggan travelled to the US, China and South Africa, and provided some training to Chinese pilots in South Africa.

His next court appearance is set for May 1.

– Reported with Associated Press

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