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Extradited businessman Christopher Tappin calls home from US prison cell
TWO weeks after he was extradited to the US over allegations he attempted to sell batteries to Iran for missiles, pensioner Christopher Tappin has finally been able to call home.
Retired businessman Mr Tappin, from Farnborough Park, Orpington, has been left languishing in the Otero County Prison Facility in the New Mexico desert since his arrival in America.
The 65-year-old was last week refused bail by a US judge in El Paso, Texas, after prosecutors claimed he may be "a danger to the community" if released and feared he posed a "flight risk".
His daughter Georgina Raeburn told News Shopper his prison conditions had now improved, after he was initially kept in a cell for 23 hours a day with the light permanently on and without any reading material.
He now shares a cell with four inmates, a man called Luther who he has been playing cards with, and three Mexicans who don't speak much English.
Ms Raeburn, who picked up the phone when her father called at around 10.30am on Friday (MAR 9), said: "It's become an awful lot more bearable for him. He had nothing to read for six days, no clock in the cell, and was allowed out for one hour a day in a caged area.
"Things have improved day-to-day. He now has someone to talk to.
"He's not in danger. He's not in the general prison population, he's between there and solitary. His cell can take 20 but there's five of them in there at the moment."
She added: "He sounded okay, I couldn't really tell as the line was so bad.
"He's very resilient and determined and wants to be given the opportunity to fight his case."
It is hoped Mr Tappin will be able to appeal the decision to remand him in custody at some point in the next two weeks.
It has been reported US prosecutors allege Mr Tappin was "a veteran arms dealer", a claim his daughter said: "If it wasn't so horribly frightening then it'd be ludicrous."
The family has been inundated with letters of support, some from complete strangers as far away as Australia.
Some mail is simply addressed: "The wife of the extradited man, Orpington".
Meanwhile the Mayor of London Boris Johnson is the latest politician to criticise the US-UK extradition treaty.
On a visit to Orpington on Monday, he told News Shopper: "I’m generally of the view the extradition treaty is unfair against British nationals. People can be extradited without the reasons being clear, often for crimes not committed in the US.
"I do think it needs looking at, for many people it remains a serious issue."