Nosratollah Tajik: The Home Secretary destroyed my life

For six years the former Iranian ambassador battled accusations he was an arms dealer. Now, he tells Paul Peachey that the political brinkmanship by the UK and the US over his extradition cost him his health

Nosratollah Tajik might have won his battle against extradition from the UK, but he is still an angry man. And the focus of his anger is one woman: Theresa May.

The former Iranian ambassador was accused of being the UK-based fixer for an illegal arms deal and faced years in jail in the US if convicted. However, he won his battle to avoid extradition because of delays in the process and returned to Iran this month.

In an interview with The Independent, he said he is threatening legal action against the Home Secretary because of health problems he developed while fighting the six-year campaign to clear his name.

Mr Tajik, who has heart and other health problems, claimed that he was used as a pawn in a high-level game of diplomatic brinkmanship as the US sought the return of hostages held in Iran. He said he was offered a more lenient jail term if he helped to find an ex-FBI man, Robert Levinson, who went missing in Iran in 2007. Mr Tajik said that he turned down a deal.

Mr Tajik was the target of a sting operation in London conducted by undercover US agents and was caught on camera discussing a £50,000 deal to ship night-vision goggles to Iran. But the 58-year-old never stood trial, after successfully arguing that Britain and the US took too long before deciding whether they would go ahead with his extradition.

The delays coincided with US efforts to seek the return of three young American hikers who were held for 26 months after allegedly straying across the border into Iran. Leaked US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks also indicated that Britain was concerned about the safety of its interests in Iran if the extradition of Mr Tajik was to go ahead.

Mr Tajik has instructed lawyers to look into suing the Government for “breach of statutory duty” because of his health problems during the protracted extradition battle.

In an interview before he returned to Iran, Mr Tajik, who was working as a scholar in Durham, told The Independent: “I believe that the British Home Secretary destroyed my life. Somebody should have to accept responsibility for the deterioration in my health. My finger’s mostly pointed at the US government, then the British Government. “They were worried about the British diplomats in Iran and they kept me here as a hostage. It’s not fair for a person with a family to have such strain and stress.”

The Home Office said: “Any proposed legal action by Mr Tajik is a matter for him and his representatives.”

The former Home Secretary John Reid agreed his extradition in 2007. Mr Tajik first appealed against the decision on health grounds in 2008 but the rejection of his appeal last year took more than three years as the Foreign Office went back and forth with the US authorities to see if they still wanted him.

During that period, Mr Tajik received an email from Daniel Collins, an official at the US Department of Justice, asking “whether or not Mr Tajik wishes to proffer any information that he may have (second-hand or otherwise) regarding Robert Levinson, who remains missing following travel to Iran”. Mr Collins wrote that if Mr Tajik agreed to help it would allow “my office to evaluate the information for its value to our investigation and determine what, if any, benefit may be afforded to Mr Tajik in exchange for truthfully providing that information”.

Mr Collins declined to comment when contacted by The Independent to ask if the US had intelligence to suggest that Mr Tajik knew of Mr Levinson’s whereabouts. Mr Tajik denied having any knowledge of Mr Levinson, who went missing a year after the Iranian’s arrest.

The FBI in March offered a $1m (£620,000) reward for information leading to the return of Mr Levinson, who travelled to Kish Island in Iran in 2007 to investigate a tobacco-smuggling racket. The US said last year that it believed he was being held in south-west Asia but did not specifically name Iran.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Algo-Developer (BDD/TDD, ASP.NET, JavaScript, RX)

£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, Apache Mahout, Python,R,AI)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone