Ex US Marine Pilot linked to Chinese hacker | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker

a handout photo of Daniel Duggan, accused of illegally providing military training to pilots working for China.

SYDNEY: A former U.S. Marine pilot in Australia fighting a US extradition request unknowingly worked with a Chinese hacker, his lawyer claims.

The US says Daniel Duggan, 55, a naturalised Australian citizen, trained Chinese military pilots to land on aircraft carriers.

A submission by Duggan’s lawyer Bernard Collaery supports Reuters reporting linking Duggan to convicted Chinese defence hacker Su Bin. It also says Duggan feared for his family’s safety following questioning by US intelligence agencies.

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

U.S. authorities say they found correspondence with Duggan on electronic devices seized from Su Bin. The messages indicate Su Bin paid for Duggan’s travel from Australia to Beijing in May 2012.

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

Although Su Bin “may have had improper connection to (Chinese) agents this was unknown to our client,” he said. Duggan asked Su Bin to help source Chinese aircraft parts for his Top Gun tourist flight business in Australia, Collaery wrote.

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

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and U.S. Navy criminal investigators knew Duggan was training pilots for AVIC. And these investigators met Duggan in Australia’s Tasmania state in December 2012 and February 2013, Collaery wrote.

Duggan moved to China in 2013 and was barred from leaving the country in 2014, his lawyer said. Duggan’s LinkedIn profile and aviation sources who knew him said he was working in China as an aviation consultant in 2013 and 2014.

He renounced his U.S. citizenship in 2016 at the U.S. embassy in Beijing, backdated to 2012 on a certificate. This followed an “overt intelligence contact by U.S. authorities that may have compromised his family safety”, his lawyer wrote.

His lawyers oppose extradition, arguing there is no evidence the Chinese pilots he trained were military and that he became an Australian citizen in January 2012, before the alleged offences.

The United States government has argued Duggan did not lose his U.S. citizenship until 2016.

Duggan’s case will be heard in a Sydney court this month, two years after his arrest in rural Australia. Australian Attorney General Mark Dreyfus will then decide whether to surrender Duggan to the U.S.


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