A former Marine Corps fighter pilot is facing extradition to the U.S. after his arrest in Australia last week as part of an apparent international crackdown on China’s recruitment of Western aviators with military experience.
Daniel Edmund Duggan, 54, was detained on October 21 by the Australian Federal Police in the town of Orange, New South Wales, the Reuters news agency reported. He appeared in court the same day, according to the Reuters account.
Mr. Duggan reportedly spent more than a decade in the U.S. military before moving to Australia and forming a company called “Top Gun Australia” which offered tourists rides in former military aircraft converted to civilian use, according to the company’s website.
He was also listed on LinkedIn as the managing director of Avibiz Ltd., which described itself as an aviation consultancy company based in Qingdao, China.
The arrest, reportedly at the request of the FBI, comes after other Western countries have warned that Beijing is poaching veterans with military expertise with promises of large sums of money. Dozens of former British military pilots are thought to have gone to train members of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The pilots are reportedly being used to give Chinese military officials information about how their former comrades would operate in combat.
The British Ministry of Defense issued an intelligence alert to warn former military pilots against working for the PLA, according to the BBC.
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“It is a lucrative package that is being offered to people,” a Western official told the BBC, adding that “money is a strong motivator.” The financial inducement being offered to the pilots is thought to be as much as $270,000.