December 20, 2011
A retired British businessman who faces extradition to the US for allegedly plotting to export missile components to Iran is the victim of entrapment by unscrupulous American customs agents, the court of appeal has been told.
Christopher Tappin, 64, from Orpington, south-east London, could receive a prison sentence of up to 35 years if convicted of charges that he assisted in the planned export to Iran of a type of battery used in US-made Hawk surface-to-air missiles.
He admits arranging the shipment of the batteries from the US to the Netherlands in 2006, a deal he said made him a profit of $500, but insists he had no idea as to their final destination and was the victim of a sting.
A hearing in February at Westminster magistrates court ordered that Tappin be extradited. The decision was upheld by the home secretary, Theresa May, two months later.
Tappin’s supporters liken his case to that of Gary McKinnon, the alleged computer hacker whose long battle against extradition has highlighted what some, including many MPs, believe are fundamental imbalances in the extradition treaty between the UK and US.