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Extradited businessman Christopher Tappin still awaiting bail appeal
EXTRADITED Orpington businessman Christopher Tappin is still waiting to challenge a US judge's refusal to grant him bail.
The retired millionaire father-of-two is into his eighth week in a New Mexico high security prison cell after being controversially extradited to the US in February over allegations he conspired to sell missile batteries to Iran.
After his application for bail was turned down last month, it was expected Mr Tappin, 65, would be able to appeal within two weeks.
Lately his family went eight days without hearing from him due to problems with the prison account system, where credit is given to inmates to make calls.
As a result he missed the opportunity to speak to his son Neil, on his 31st birthday.
There are also difficulties getting money to him as his jail does not take Western Union transfers.
Instead Mr Tappin has to rely on his lawyers to purchase orders of $50 denominations, which can only be bought from grocery shops or banks in the US. His family can send personal letters to him but claim crosswords and puzzles they posted to him have been confiscated.
Mr Tappin's daughter Georgina Raeburn said: "Doing anything internationally with the prison is almost impossible.
"It is incredibly distressing for us as a family to be left not knowing what's going on."
Until recently, he has been able to make 10 minute calls to his wife Elaine, 62, every few days.
Georgina said: "He's doing okay, he still has a sense of humour. But it's not nice, conditions are horrible.
"He's very hopeful of getting his bail hearing and getting the right outcome."
She added: "The reality is shocking for him and the family. It's very difficult to have any sort of contact with him. If we were to go and see him we would get one 30 minute visit a week."
The Tappin family want the coalition government to intervene as the Blair administration did in the case of the "Nat West Three", who were extradited to the US in 2006.
Prime Minister at the time Tony Blair intervened and the defendants were given bail and electronically-monitored in Houston.
Ms Raeburn said: "This government needs to understand the huge human costs of this, when he has not been proven guilty of a thing.
"In our country we pride ourselves on our judiciary system."
FROM SUBURBIA TO A DESERT JAIL
Christopher Tappin handed himself over to the American authorities at Heathrow Airport on February 28.
Yet despite this, a US judge in El Paso, Texas, rejected his application for bail after prosecutors claimed he may be "a danger to the community" if released and feared he posed a "flight risk".
He was initially held in isolation in a cell at the Otero County Prison Facility in the New Mexico desert for 23 hours a day with the light permanently on and without any reading material.
Now he is being held with four other inmates who he is able to communicate with and play cards.
Mr Tappin, who denies the charges against him, faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted.