• Amid struggles to find trained pilots, Beijing has been recruiting Western military pilots
  • Duggan was planning to start a business after his decade-long stint in the U.S. military
  • Duggan reportedly hired former U.S. and British military pilots after moving to Beijing

A former U.S. marine pilot and flight instructor, who was arrested by the Australian Federal Police in October, has been classified as an "extremely high-risk inmate," according to his lawyers.

Lawyer Dennis Miralis told the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney on Monday that ex-Marine Daniel Edmund Duggan was also denied access to writing materials and medical help after he was classified as an "extreme high-risk restricted inmate," Space Daily reported.

However, no information about how the classification was made was provided by the officials, Miralis revealed, adding that his client was being held in conditions akin to a convicted terrorist inside a maximum-security facility in Sydney.

This development came as Duggan was facing the prospect of extradition to the U.S. The ex-marine was, however, not told the nature of the charges for which his extradition was being considered, his lawyer further reportedly said.

"This is unprecedented to have an Australian citizen being placed on the most strict inmate restrictions, akin with people who've been convicted of terrorist offenses and multiple homicides, in circumstances where he's never been in trouble with the police, neither in Australia nor anywhere in the world," Miralis said, as reported by The Sydney Morning Herald.

The lawyer further argued that his client, now an Australian citizen, would be eligible for release if the U.S. does not ask for his extradition within a 60-day timeframe, till December 20.

"He's presently not even able to access pens for the purposes of writing the nature of his complaint," Miralis further told the court.

As reported previously, Australian authorities arrested Duggan, 54, in New South Wales on Oct. 21. His arrest came amid several reports of China's attempts to recruit retired Western military pilots to train PLA pilots.

Duggan had already moved to Australia following a decade-long stint in the U.S. military to start a business called Top Gun Tasmania. In 2014, he moved to Beijing and reportedly hired former U.S. and British military pilots to offer tourists joyrides in fighter jets.

Several reports have since emerged of Beijing's attempts to recruit Western military pilots from Australia, the U.K., the U.S., Canada, and France.

Given the rapid pace of its massive military modernization, China is reportedly struggling to find enough trained pilots to operate fighter jets. The mainland is, therefore, seeking to speed up the pilot training program.

Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert said, with its third and most advanced aircraft carrier named Fujian having started at sea, the PLA needed at least 200 qualified carrier-based fighter jet pilots to operate 130 ship-borne aircraft, SCMP reported.

The Liaoning, seen here in 2017, is China's first aircraft carrier