Chris Tappin appears in US court on Iran missile charge

Chris Tappin at Heathrow police station before extradition to the US
Image caption Chris Tappin was extradited to the US after a battle through the British courts

A British man accused of exporting parts for Iranian missiles has made his first appearance in a US court.

Retired businessman Chris Tappin, 65, of Orpington, south-east London, appeared for less than five minutes at a federal court in El Paso, Texas.

He was remanded in custody until Friday, when his lawyer says he will vigorously pursue the case for bail.

Mr Tappin, who was extradited last week after a battle through the British courts, denies the allegations.

Neighbouring state

The judge read him his rights in court and a summary of the charges.

These relate to an alleged conspiracy to export specialised batteries which the US justice department says would have been used in missiles by Iran.

The defendant will be held on remand at a prison in the neighbouring state of New Mexico.

On Tuesday, Mr Tappin's wife Elaine broke down in tears as she described his case to MPs.

She told the Commons home affairs committee of her dismay that British courts were not interested in his case.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve told MPs issues with the UK-US extradition treaty were "not readily curable".

Crime 'sting'

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

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

Mr Tappin denies trying to sell batteries for use by Iran in Hawk missiles and says he has been the victim of an FBI sting.

The Briton, a former president of the Kent Golf Society, faces a trial and a possible 35-year jail sentence.

British judges say the extradition is lawful and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has refused to intervene.

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