3/06/2012

Businessman on Iran charges stays in custody

FINANCIAL TIMES 
By Johanna Kassel in New York
 
Christopher Tappin, the UK businessman, was remanded in custody by a US judge on Monday after he was extradited to the US on allegations that he illegally exported defence equipment to Iran.

Judge Robert Castaneda said Mr Tappin, former chairman of Brooklands International Freight Services, would remain in custody in a New Mexico prison after prosecutors said he was a potential "danger to the community" if released.
He denies unlawfully attempting to export the Eagle Picher brand batteries used in US Hawk missiles and says he was the victim of entrapment in an FBI sting.
Jo Johnson, MP for Orpington and Mr Tappin's local MP, and Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence party and a personal friend, had asked Therea May, home secretary, to press US authorities for Mr Tappin to be released on bail. US authorities said there were concerns he might flee if released on bail. His wife, Elaine, said the ruling was an "outrage".

"Why has the British government allowed him to be incarcerated in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day before he's even been tried?" she said on Monday.
He was extradited to the US last week after a two-year battle, which inflamed an ongoing debate in the UK about the fairness of its extradition arrangements with the US.

The criminal case stems from a US Department of Homeland Security complaint filed in 2007 to a Texas magistrate. It charged Mr Tappin and others over an alleged conspiracy to export controlled defence articles to Iran without the required licence. Two other men have already been convicted in the case.