Retired British Military Pilot’s Residence Searched Over Training PLA Pilots

According to foreign media outlets, Australian police are investigating a retired British military pilot suspected of involvement in the training pilots for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at a flying school in South Africa, a Sydney court was told on March 17. In November, federal police searched the Australian home of former British pilot Keith Hartley who is the chief operating officer of the Test Flying Academy of South Africa (TFASA). He was suspected of the offense of providing military training to PLA pilots. Hartley and his lawyer have denied any criminal wrongdoing in a statement. The UK and Australia have both announced bans on retired military pilots training Communist China’s pilots, and the UK will revise its national security laws to prevent former personnel from working for intermediary institutions such as TFASA.

Hartley’s barrister told the Federal Court that the warrant was not clear enough. In response, the Senior Counsel acting for the Commissioner of Police argued that given Hartley’s long aviation experience, including as a test pilot, the meaning must have been immediately apparent to him when he read the warrant. The training is said to be provided to pilots of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. The search warrant was not required to explain how the Chinese military had funded the training of its pilots at this stage of the investigation.

Aussie Brief News
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