Extradition threat Briton Christopher Tappin accuses US agents

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A retired British businessman today denied allegations he sold arms to Iran and said he was "the victim of unlawful conduct by US agents".

Christopher Tappin, 63, from Orpington, Kent, will face an extradition hearing in two weeks' time which will decide if he will be sent to the US to face charges.

At a press conference in central London today, Mr Tappin said: "Even though I am certain I did nothing wrong I would be happy to face trail in the United Kingdom and not the USA.

"I live here with my family and the alleged crimes were committed here.

"My wife suffers from Churg-Strauss syndrome, which is a very serious condition and she needs my constant support and attention."

If convicted, Mr Tappin faces up to 35 years in an American prison.

It is alleged he sold batteries, sourced in the US, for surface-to-air missiles to Tehran.

The Kent County Golf Union president denies the allegations and believes he was unwittingly caught up in a US customs sting.

"I deny these allegations," he said today.

"I was the victim of the unlawful conduct of US agents who pretended to belong to a false company, known as Mercury Global Enterprises. It exists solely to ensnare unsuspecting importers.

"When negotiating with me, and when I raised my concerns about the licence agreement they assured me that 'this would not be a problem', however the same agents have been relied upon to accuse me of being responsible for not obtaining the licences.

"They misled me by sending me paperwork which clearly stated 'no license required'."

Mr Tappin said he was informed that his business associate Robert Gibson had been injured in a car accident when he had, in fact, been arrested.