Extradited Briton in high-security Texas jail

Cahal Milmo
Monday 27 February 2012 01:00
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The family of retired businessman Christopher Tappin are due to hear from him today for the first time since he was extradited to Texas on Friday to face charges that he tried to obtain missile parts to sell to Iran.

The 65-year-old grandfather will be allowed to make his first call from Otero County Prison, an austere high-security jail in the Texan desert where he will remain until a decision is made by the courts about whether he should be granted bail.

Mr Tappin, who has fought a two-year battle against extradition, claiming he was a victim of entrapment by American agents, bid an emotional farewell to his wife Elaine, 62, who suffers from a rare auto-immune disorder, before he was handed to US marshals.

The Briton now faces a process likely to last many months as prosecutors decide how to proceed. A bail hearing is expected to take place on Wednesday or Thursday this week, with Mr Tappin's US lawyers arguing that he should be freed to await trial because he does not represent a flight risk or danger to the American public.

The former shipping agent is facing allegations that he sought to buy specialist batteries for the Hawk surface-to-air missile systems used by Iran from a company being used as a front by American customs agents. He claims he had no idea about the use of the batteries and had been told by his business partner that they were for use by a Dutch car parts company.

Prior to leaving Britain, Mr Tappin told The Independent that he had been warned there was no guarantee he would be granted bail and that his attempts to prove his innocence in the US courts were being hampered because UK-based witnesses were reluctant to go to the US to give evidence.

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