Former high ranking Iranian diplomat Nosratollah Tajik avoids extradition to US

59-year-old claimed he was being kept 'hostage' in a politically tainted case

A former
high-ranking Iranian
diplomat who claimed he was being kept “hostage” in a politically tainted case
has won his fight against extradition to the United States.

In a drawn out case that has involved high level political intrigue, Nosratollah Tajik, 59, was the target of an American sting operation in London six years ago, accused of conspiring to export US made night-vision goggles to Iran without a licence.

The former ambassador to Jordan, who was working as an engineering scholar in Durham at the time, insisted he was simply a middle man for a student who needed them for research. In a rare interview, he told The Independent: “I told him I would do nothing illegal. This is politically motivated for the US, they need information about other things.”

Now Mr Tajik will be freed after the High Court judges ruled that he could not be extradited. It remains to be seen whether the Home Secretary and US government choose to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The former diplomat said the High Court judges had made a “brave decision”.

The case has been plagued with controversial delays amid fears that sending Mr Tajik to America for trial could cause further diplomatic tensions between the UK and Iran and create a "real threat" to staff at the British embassy in Tehran.

Lord Justice Moses, sitting with Mr Justice Sweeney, ruled that Tajik "has escaped extradition" because of a failure to "show reasonable cause" for the delays.

Alun Jones QC, representing Mr Tajik, told the High Court last month that it would be “oppressive” to order his removal now. The former ambassador, who has been the subject of an electronic tag and a night-time curfew at the west London flat he shares with his wife and two sons, has heart and other health problems. He would be unlikely to survive the rigours of the US judicial system and a possible 10-year jail sentence, the barrister said.

Extradition was first approved by then Home Secretary John Reid, in 2007 but the Iranians consistently lobbied for his release. A delay of more than three years followed before the final decision to extradite was taken.

Hugo Keith QC, appearing for Home Secretary Theresa May, said the delays had occurred because ministers wanted to see if the US government wished to withdraw its request as there was a "real and immediate threat to UK embassy personnel in Tehran" if extradition went ahead.

A cable sent from the US embassy in London in June 2008 cited comments by a senior Foreign Office official, claiming: “Iran made non-specific threats of reprisals against the UK should Tajik be extradited.”

After years of failing to respond to British government requests, the Americans eventually indicated in 2011 that they were not withdrawing their request, and Mrs May ordered the extradition, deciding Mr Tajik's medical condition was not a bar.

Lord Justice Moses said: “Under the statute, delay in implementing an extradition must be justified to the court, once the appeal process is over.  In the absence of any justification offered by the requesting state, the USA, the court could not find that there was reasonable cause for the delay.”

Voices
voicesThe Ukip leader on why he's done nothing illegal
Arts & Entertainment
artYouth club owner says mural is 'gift from the sky' so he can prevent closure of venue
Life & Style
Democreativity, a project set up by the Swedish government, is aimed at producing the 'most unlikely video game ever' as a way of promoting democracy to the world
tech
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
News
people
Life & Style
The new low cost smartphone of Motorola, 'Motorola Moto G', is displayed in Sao Paulo, Brazil on November 13, 2013. The smartphone, with dimensions 65.9mm W x 129.9mm H x 6.0 - 11.6mm D is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 with quad-core 1,2 GHz CPU, a 4.5-inch display and Android Operating System 4.3 and a suggested price of $ 179 USD.
techData assessing smartphones has revealed tens of millions of phones are at risk of being harvested
Arts & Entertainment
Jessica Pare as Megan Draper and Jon Hamm as the troubled, melancholy Don Draper
tvAnd six other questions we hope Mad Men series seven will answer
Arts & Entertainment
Cody and Paul Walker pictured in 2003.
film
News
David Beckham is planning to build a stadium in Miami’s port for a new football team he will own
news... in his fight for a football stadium in Miami's port area
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

Day In a Page

Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal
Supersize art

Is big better? Britain's latest super-sized art

The Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
James Dean: Back on the big screen

James Dean: Back on the big screen

As 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star perfected his moody act
Catch-22: How the cult classic was adapted for the stage

How a cult classic was adapted for the stage

More than half a century after it was published 'Catch-22' will make its British stage debut next week
10 best activity books for children

10 best activity books for children

Keep little ones busy this bank holiday with one of these creative, educational and fun books
Arsenal 3 West Ham United 1: Five things we learnt from the battle between the London sides

Five things we learnt from Arsenal's win over West Ham

Arsenal still in driving seat for Champions League spot and Carroll can make late charge into England’s World Cup squad
Copa del Rey final: Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right

Pete Jenson on the Copa del Rey final

Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right
Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

With the tennis circus now rolling on to the slowest surface, Paul Newman highlights who'll be making the headlines – and why
Exclusive: NHS faces financial disaster in 2015 as politicians urged to find radical solution

NHS faces financial disaster in 2015

Politicians urged to find radical solution
Ukraine crisis: How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?

Ukraine crisis

How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

A history of the First World War in 100 moments
Fires could turn Amazon rainforest into a desert as human activity and climate change threaten ‘lungs of the world’, says study

New threat to the Amazon rainforest:

Fires that scorch the ‘lungs of the Earth’
Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City: And the winner of this season’s Premier League title will be...

Who’s in box seat now? The winner of the title will be ...

Who is in best shape to take the Premier League prize?