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Christopher Tappin, retired British businessman, extradited to US for arms dealing trial

Christopher Tappin, a retired British businessman accused of arms dealing, has been sent to the United States to stand trial.

Tappin 2012 02 26Enlarge
Retired British businessman Christopher Tappin talked to the press in London on Aug. 17, 2010, as his extradition hearings began. (BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

Christopher Tappin, 65, a retired British businessman accused of arms dealing, has been sent to the United States to stand trial. He left the UK on Friday accompanied by two US Marshals after spending a quarter of a million pounds fighting a 20-month legal battle against his extradition, the Daily Mail reported.

Tappin, a former director of Surrey-based Brooklands International Freight Services, faces charges that he was part of a conspiracy to illegally export missile parts to Iran, the Wall Street Journal reported. Tappin claims he thought the parts were destined for the Dutch car industry, the Guardian reported.

Nabbed in a sting operation, Tappin has argued he was a victim of entrapment, the Wall Street Journal reported. If convicted, he could be sentenced to 35 years in jail.

At London’s Heathrow Airport, Tappin complained bitterly that UK’s conservative government had let him down, the Guardian reported. "I look to [David] Cameron to look after my rights, and he has failed to do so," Tappin said, according to the Guardian. "I have no rights. [Radical cleric] Abu Qatada is walking the streets of London and we cannot extradite him. He has more rights than I have. If I was a terrorist, I would not be going to America. I think it's a shame, a disgrace."

(The UK government has been unable to deport Qatada, who faces terror charges in Jordan, because the European court of human rights is concerned that evidence gained through torture could be used against him, the Guardian reported.)

Critics of the UK’s extradition arrangements argue they make it too easy for the US to spirit away British citizens, the Wall Street Journal reported. According to the Wall Street Journal:

US authorities, to receive an extradition, don't have to show the British courts basic evidence to prove there are grounds for a case against the suspect. Britain also doesn't necessarily have the power to decide whether a given case would be better tried in the UK.

Tappin will appeal for bail in his US first court appearance on Monday in El Paso, Texas, his US attorney Dan Cogdell told the Guardian. "There is no reasonable basis to believe that he is a flight risk or a danger. He is a respected businessman with no criminal record whatsoever,” Cogdell said.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/united-kingdom/120226/christopher-tappin-uk-extradition-us-arms-iran-sting