Christopher Tappin vows to contest terrorism allegations

Christopher Tappin: "I'm appalled that things could come to this"

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A retired British businessman who was extradited to the US on charges of plotting to sell weapons parts to Iran has told the BBC he plans to vigorously contest the allegations.

Christopher Tappin, 65, from Orpington, south-east London, was released on bail of $1m (£620,000) earlier this week.

Mr Tappin denies conspiring to export batteries for Hawk surface-to-air missiles from the US to Iran.

He faces trial on offences which carry a sentence of up to 35 years in jail.

Mr Tappin claims he was the victim of an FBI sting.

He says he believed the batteries were intended for use by the automotive industry, adding that he is looking forward to fighting the charges in court.

In his first broadcast interview since being released on bail, Mr Tappin said he never had any connection with terrorism.

He told the BBC: "I'm not a terrorist. I've never had any connections with terrorism and I'm just appalled that things could come to this sort of stage - especially in my life now, when I'm 65, been retired for four years and enjoying retirement.

"I didn't know these batteries were for Hawk missiles and too, I didn't know they were destined for Iran."

Electronic tag

The Briton was released from custody after a hearing at the federal court in El Paso, Texas, on Wednesday.

Mr Tappin was told to surrender his passport and is restricted to travel only to El Paso and Houston, where he will stay with one of his lawyers.

Bail conditions also require him to wear an electronic tag and agree to have his emails monitored.

Mr Tappin's extradition is one of a number of recent cases that have fuelled controversy surrounding the UK-US extradition treaty.

Critics say the treaty makes the extradition of British nationals easier than extraditing US nationals to the UK because the US authorities have to produce less evidence to support their case than their British counterparts.

But a review by senior judge Sir Scott Baker last year found the treaty was fair to British citizens.

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