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Former US Marine pilot Daniel Duggan arrested in Australia worked with Chinese hacker, says lawyer

Duggan denies the allegations that he broke US arms control laws. He has been in an Australian maximum-security prison since his 2022 arrest after returning from six years working in Beijing.

US authorities found correspondence with Duggan on electronic devices seized from Su Bin, Duggan’s lawyer Bernard Collaery said in the March submission to Australian Attorney General Mark Dreyfus, who will decide whether to surrender Duggan to the US after a magistrate hears Duggan’s extradition case.

The case will be heard in a Sydney court this month, two years after his arrest in rural Australia at a time when Britain was warning its former military pilots not to work for China.

Su Bin, arrested in Canada in 2014, pleaded guilty in 2016 to theft of US military aircraft designs by hacking major US defence contractors. He is listed among seven co-conspirators with Duggan in the extradition request.

Duggan knew Su Bin as an employment broker for Chinese state aviation company AVIC, lawyer Collaery wrote, and the hacking case was “totally unrelated to our client”.

Although Su Bin “may have had improper connection to (Chinese) agents this was unknown to our client”, Duggan’s lawyer wrote.

AVIC was blacklisted by the US last year as a Chinese military-linked company.

Messages retrieved from Su Bin’s electronic devices show he paid for Duggan’s travel from Australia to Beijing in May 2012, according to extradition documents lodged by the United States with the Australian court.

Duggan asked Su Bin to help source Chinese aircraft parts for his Top Gun tourist flight business in Australia, Collaery wrote.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and US Navy criminal investigators knew Duggan was training pilots for AVIC and met him