AFP attempt to freeze sale of mansion for US in case of Daniel Duggan is 'lapdog diplomacy', lawyer says
A move by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to freeze the New South Wales South Coast property of Australian citizen Daniel Duggan on behalf of the United States government has been called "lapdog diplomacy" by an international lawyer.
Mr Duggan, an Australian citizen and former US Marine pilot, is fighting extradition to the US over charges of conspiracy, arms trafficking and money laundering, relating to allegations he trained Chinese military pilots more than a decade ago.
He has denied all allegations.
This week the AFP applied to have the family's multi-million-dollar property seized by the state of NSW, under a restraining order made by a US judge.
"The NSW Supreme Court has registered a foreign restraining order made in the United States, on the application of the AFP," it said.
The property, named Bundaleer, is a seven-bedroom, 32-hectare estate on Saddleback Mountain, just inland of Kiama.
The house, still under construction, was being sold by Mr Duggan's wife Saffrine to fund his legal costs prior to the AFP's application, and is still listed online.
Court documents show the AFP applied to have the NSW Trustee take control and custody of the property, under a restraining order made by Judge Emmett G Sullivan in the District of Columbia in early October.
Glenn Kolomeitz, an international lawyer and advocate for Mr Duggan and his family, said the AFP's civil action would derail the family's plans to fund his defence.
"Including to fight the extradition which will be in excess of $1 million," he said.
"This is a very expensive rigorous defence and taking away that opportunity to fund the defence is unconscionable."
He said under the restraining order, any attempt to sell the property would be a criminal act.
"If anybody was to dispose of that property they could face up to five years in jail so it can't be sold until this additional process they're putting Dan and his family through has run its course," he said.
Mr Duggan has been in custody at Lithgow Maximum Security Prison in NSW for more than a year on the charges, and Mr Kolomeitz criticised the AFP's decision to serve the civil case for the US.
"This entire case has been Australia jumping through every hoop the United States have put up to extradite an Australian citizen and take him away from his Australian wife and his Australian kids … it's real lapdog diplomacy from Australia," he said.
The civil action is listed under the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, which allows foreign countries to request their legal orders be served in Australia.
Mr Kolomeitz said the use of the act in this case was doing a disservice to the Australian public.
"It seems that whenever the US says jump, Australia says how high," he said.
"I hate to think what it's costing the taxpayer, but I know what it's costing the family. It's costing them the whole world, it's costing them everything."
Mr Duggan appeared before the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney on Friday in his criminal extradition case, where his lawyers will request access to classified documents.
A spokesperson for the family said the documents would be critical to proving that his case was political and did not meet the standards of extradition to the United States.
The civil matter continues next Wednesday.
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