ORPINGTON: Wife of man accused of Iran missile conspiracy pleads for him to avoid extradition (From News Shopper)
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ORPINGTON: Wife of man accused of Iran missile conspiracy pleads for him to avoid extradition
THE seriously ill wife of an Orpington grandfather facing extradition to the US has begged the UK courts not to send him to America.
Christopher Tappin, 64, is accused of conspiring to export special batteries for surface-to-air missiles from New York to Iran and could be jailed for up to 35 years if sent to Texas and found guilty.
Father-of-two Mr Tappin, who has one grandchild and is president of Kent County Golf Union, denies the allegations and says he was “set up” by US customs agents.
During an extradition hearing at City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday (Nov 4), District Judge John Zani heard that Mr Tappin’s wife of 37 years Elaine had written a statement for the court.
Mrs Tappin, who was diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disease in 2004, pleaded with the court not to extradite her husband, who retired in 2004 to care for her at their home in Farnborough Park.
Ben Cooper, defending the millionaire, said: “Mr Tappin’s wife is very much in need of her husband to help her with day-to-day living due to her ill health.”
However, Aaron Watkins, representing the US government, told the court Mrs Tappin has family living nearby who could help with caring for her if her husband was sent to the US.
Mr Cooper had previously told the court Mr Tappin was caught up in a sting by US agents who "overstepped the mark of legitimate law enforcement conduct".
In 2006, while a director for Brooklands International Freight Services Ltd, Mr Tappin was hired by a client to ship the batteries from the US to the Netherlands.
However, the company selling the batteries, Mercury Global Enterprises, was a fake organisation set up by US customs agents to ensnare people suspected of shipping weapons technology to Iran.
The US government, which has dubbed Mr Tappin a ‘fugitive’, claims he knew the 25,000 dollar batteries would be sent on from the Netherlands to Tehran, but Mr Tappin denies this.
Mr Tappin claims the undercover US agents told him it was legal to ship the batteries and even promised to arrange the paperwork, and he told News Shopper he is the victim of “entrapment”.
He said: “The whole thing stinks to high heaven. It’s like someone buying a knife from a hardware shop and killing someone, and then the hardware shop manager being prosecuted for murder.”
Both the client, British citizen Robert Gibson, and another man, US citizen Robert Caldwell, were convicted and jailed for two years in the US in 2007 for their part in the deal.
In court on Thursday, Mr Cooper criticised the conduct of the US authorities, saying: “Mr Tappin should be tried within a fair system in the UK, where such a low form of skulduggery would not be permitted.”
Judge Zani will announce whether he has decided to dismiss the extradition request or forward it to Home Secretary Theresa May for approval at the court on January 27.
Mr Tappin was arrested in May this year and was initially held in Wandsworth Prison for 24 hours.
His case has sparked criticism of the extradition treaty between the US and the UK, which allows the US government to extradite British citizens without showing our courts any evidence against them.