The picture on the left shows retired Businessman Chris Tappin from Kent, and his wife Elaine arriving at Heathrow airport before being deported to the US (Texas) accompanied by US marshals, where he will face charges of supplying batteries that he thought would be used in the car industry, but in fact were always destined to power Hawk air missile systems for the Iranians six years ago. When he steps off the plane in the states, he will be handcuffed to a chain around his waist, as well as having a leg-iron. How undignified for someone who has seemingly led a blameless business career. More than likely he will face enormous pressure to plea-bargain - and possibly face financial ruin for a crime he is adamant he didn't comit - in order to mitigate his sentence. What you probably don't know is that Chris Tappen at the time was dealing with a company whom he thought was a bona fide company, when in actual fact it was being run by the FBI...that's right, it was a sting set up for the purpose of entrapment, and so the Americans now want one of our British nationals to face trial and if he is found guilty of said offences, then he could face up to 35 years in jail, they really know how to sentence offenders don't they - nice eh?
Of course there are a whole host of problems with this, naturally. Why wasn't he prosecuted here by the CPS (crown prosecution service) if there was sufficient evidence against him. One reason being muted for this - and it does make sense - is that, if the FBI had set up this sting then the CPS didn't want to jeopardise their operation, and of course it isn't clear how Tappen came to the attention of the FBI in the first place...since there doesn't appear to be any evidence of whistle-blowing, although I'm sure that as events unfold this will become increasingly clear.
There is also the problem of the extradition treaty itself. Quite frankly it stinks! Why? Well, the biggest stumbling block is the way it was drawn up back in 2003 and came into force 2007. You see, it's so much easier for America to sucessfully extradite one of our citizens, than it is for us to extradite one of theirs. So, because of the public outcry David Cameron has asked Home Secretary Theresa May (her of the leopard skin shoes) to conduct a thorough review into the treaty that we have with the US.
According to a report produced by Lord Justice Scott Baker, 'the 2003 Extradition Act was not "lopsided" or biased against British citizens'. That may or may not be the case, but it does suggest that the treaty was drawn up rather too quickly after the 9/11 attacks against the Twin Towers and not giving our citizens the kind of legal protective framework that they deserve. This has to change, because as it stands the US makes a request and and one or more of our citizens is being carted over the pond on very little evidence - which in any event should be exhaustively tested in our own courts first...don't you think? Whatever the outcome though - I wish him well.
Incidently...we often hear sniping against the Daily Mail, but the snipers never mention that it has been the only paper to run a sustained campaign for Gary Mckinnon not to be extradited to the US.
Perhaps we should bear that in mind in future.