British arms-to-Iran suspect plans to seek release

Associated Press Modified: February 28, 2012 at 5:45 pm •  Published: February 28, 2012
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EL PASO, Texas (AP) — A retired British businessman whose extradition to the U.S. to face allegations he tried to sell missile batteries to Iran caused an uproar in his home country will seek his release on bond Friday.

Christopher Tappin, 65, faces charges in El Paso that he tried to buy specialized batteries for Hawk missiles for $25,000 from undercover American agents with the intention of exporting them to Iran. Two other men have already been convicted in the case.

Tappin's U.S. attorney Dennis Hester said he will request that U.S. Magistrate Judge David Guaderrama free his client on bond during a Friday hearing.

"The only factor (against that happening) is that he doesn't have many ties to the U.S," Hester said Tuesday.

But the lawyer said he hopes the judge will take into consideration the fact that Tappin surrendered to U.S. Marshals and complied with the conditions of release set by British authorities.

Tappin had chains and shackles on his hands and feet during Tuesday's hearing, as is customary in federal court, his lawyer said.

"He was calm, in good spirits, considering everything that he's been through," Hester said.

Tappin turned himself in Friday after fighting extradition from the United Kingdom for two years and was brought to El Paso by federal agents. His case has touched a nerve in Britain, where many believe the fast-track extradition arrangements between the U.K. and the U.S. are unfairly weighted in Washington's favor.

He is currently being held at the Otero county jail in New Mexico, some 90 miles north of El Paso. He was put in solitary confinement at his own request, Hester said.



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