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Daniel Duggan can be extradited to US, Australian judge says

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A former US marine wanted by Washington can be handed over by Australia, a magistrate in Sydney has ruled.

Daniel Duggan, 55, who is a naturalised Australian citizen, is accused of breaking US arms-control laws by training Chinese fighter pilots.

He has been in custody in Australia since 2022. He denies the charges, which his lawyer has previously described as politically-motivated.

It is now for the Australian attorney general to decide whether the extradition should go ahead. Mr Duggan’s legal team is expected to make an appeal, though did not challenge Friday’s court ruling.

“We respectfully ask the attorney general to take another look at this case and to bring my husband home,” Mr Duggan’s wife, Saffrine, told a gathering of reporters and supporters outside the court.

The attorney general’s office told local media that the government did not comment on extradition matters.

Mr Duggan’s eligibility for surrender to the US was decided by magistrate Daniel Reiss, who ordered the father of six to remain in custody. He has been held in a maximum-security prison since his arrest in October 2022.

His daughter Molly said the ruling amounted to a “death sentence”, and criticised the isolation her father has experienced while incarcerated.

Mr Duggan spent 12 years as a pilot in the Marine Corps, before moving to Australia in 2002. There, he changed career and gained citizenship – later renouncing his American citizenship. He also spent a number of years living in China.

His alleged training of Chinese military pilots happened more than a decade ago at an academy in South Africa. US officials say it took place without their permission.

But Mr Duggan’s lawyers have previously argued there is no evidence that the pilots he trained were military, the Reuters news agency reports. They also say Mr Duggan was no longer an American citizen when the alleged wrongdoing took place – something the US disputes.

Mr Duggan’s case has prompted nations including Australia and the UK to warn their air force personnel against taking lucrative contracts for foreign powers.

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