By Joe Montero
Daniel Duggan is an Australian citizen who migrated here from the United States years ago. He made a home here with his wife Saffrine and their six children, aged from 5 to 18. On 21 October last year, where he had gone after dropping his children at school in Orange (NSW) and then going to a local supermarket, he was grabbed by federal police inside and subsequently taken to Sydney and locked in a cell at Silverwater prison.
There is no charge. Bail has been refused. He is being held in isolation as an “extreme high-risk restricted inmate,” treatment usually reserved for the very violent.
Daniel learned that his arrest and imprisonment was at the request of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). They claim that he has worked for the Chinese and want to have him extradited to the United States, to be charged for arms trafficking and money laundering.
Australian Attorney General Mark Dreyfus has complied with the request.
No evidence of this has been presented. All he did was work under a commercial contract to train Chinese pilots in South Africa. The money laundering part is for having been paid $A116,000 in 2011 and 2012 for the job and having this transferred into his bank account. Daniel was once a pilot and major in the US Marine Corps, and this is being used to hint at something sinister.
He and his legal defence don’t know the details because the United States and Australian governments have so far denied ac
cess to official documents. These are needed to have a defence before a court, according to his layer, Dennis Miralis, who spoke outside the Sydney’s Magistrates Court yesterday (13 February).
This is a politicised case, and it is not dissimilar to that of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, also being sought for extradition to be tried for being a traitor to the United States and for espionage. Another similarity is that in both cases the normal rule of law is being circumvented.
There is no presumption of innocence until proven guilty. There is restriction on the right to a proper defence. There is ongoing imprisonment without being charged with a crime.
In the case on Daniel Duggen’s detention in Australia, there is a clear violation of Australia’s extradition treaty with the US., which spells out that extradition must be refused if the alleged offense is of a “political character”.
Suffrine Duggan will petition the United Nations Human Rights Committee, on the grounds that his detention is “inhumane” and an “affront to Australia’s rule of law.”
“We desperately seek ongoing support and respectfully ask people demand that our government protects and defends the rule of law, due process and Australian sovereignty,” she said.
A Separate formal complaint has been made to Australia’s Inspector General of Intelligence and Security.
Besides the obvious unfairness to the victim of this treatment, the case will set a dangerous precedent, if the extradition succeeds. How many more will follow and add to gradual restriction of rights taking place in Australia? And this case raises questions about a lack in Australia’s sovereignty as a nation.
A petition in support of Daniel Duggan has already raised 10,000 signatures. It might be that public opinion will not be on the side of Washington and Canberra on this and turn the unfair treatment of an innocent man into a political headache. Let’s hope so. This is probably the best way to see justice done.