A former US navy pilot awaiting possible extradition for training Chinese airmen will remain imprisoned in Australia for several more months at least.
Daniel Edmund Duggan, 54, has had his extradition hearing pushed to November while his team awaits official findings that could prevent his extradition to the US, where he would face criminal prosecution.
If those findings are not ready by then, Duggan's barrister Bret Walker SC said the future court date may be vacated.
An inquiry by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security was launched in March after the pilot made a formal complaint accusing the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation of illegally luring him back to Australia from China for extradition.
Mr Walker hopes the findings could form the basis of the defence and a potential bail application.
Magistrate Daniel Reiss said the pilot's team had made some moves to prevent his extradition.
"(However) a number of brick walls have already been hit," he said in Downing Centre Local Court on Tuesday.
Duggan was arrested in October 2022 after the US government accused him of arms trafficking by providing military training to Chinese pilots in South Africa between 2010 and 2012, and money laundering while he was a US citizen.
The father of six has denied the charges.
Speaking from the maximum security Lithgow Correctional Centre in regional NSW, Mr Duggan said he was simply an employee at the South African flight academy.
"There was nothing wrong, I went as an employee with other Western pilots, including other Australians, and trained civilian Chinese test pilots," he told the ABC's 7:30 program in an interview aired on Monday night.
Asked whether the training included teaching pilots to take off and land from aircraft carriers, he said no illegal training was conducted.
Duggan has spent the last 277 days in prison despite his lack of convictions or violence.
The 54-year-old's legal team have previously told media he was under enormous mental and emotional pressure behind bars, and often worried about his family, the risk that he may not receive a fair trial in the US and that his safety could not be assured if he was imprisoned there.
If Duggan is found guilty, he faces more than 60 years in jail.
His wife, legal team and supporters maintain the extradition was a form of arbitrary prosecution catalysed by growing geopolitical tensions between the US and China.
This will also form part of Duggan's defence, though the magistrate noted some potential difficulties with the argument.
"Clearly the respondent is flagging an objection in relation to political offence," he said.
"(But) the clear dividing line as to what's political and what falls outside of that, and the wording, is fairly broad."
Earlier this year, the Australian Federal Police searched the South Australian property of former British pilot Keith Hartley, though he was not charged.
Police claimed he was involved in training pilots from the Chinese People's Liberation Army as CEO of the Test Flying Academy of South Africa, the same school Duggan taught at.
Born in Boston, Duggan served in the Marines as a pilot for 12 years before moving to Australia.
He became an Australian citizen in 2012 and renounced his US citizenship five years later.
The extradition hearing is set to begin on November 24.
Australian Associated Press