British man gets $1M bail in Iran missile case

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By JUAN CARLOS LLORCA, Associated Press

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — A judge granted a $1 million bail Monday for a British man who was extradited to Texas to face charges that he tried to sell missile parts to Iran.

Under the ruling, Christopher Tappin, 65, must post a $50,000 cash deposit, wear a tracking device and live within five miles of his Houston-area attorney Dan Cogdell.

Another of his attorneys, Kent Schaffer, said Tappin would be released Tuesday or Wednesday.

"His family is ecstatic and we are looking forward to getting him here (to Houston) to start working with him on his defense," Schaffer told the Associated Press Monday in an email.

The defendant will also have to surrender his passport to U.S. Marshals and confine his travels to the Houston area and El Paso to make his court appearances.

Tappin is accused of trying to buy batteries for Hawk surface-to-air 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.

The three-count federal indictment filed in 2007 says a cooperating defendant provided computer files showing Tappin intended to send the missile batteries to a Tehran-based company and that they had illegally sold U.S. technology to Iran in the past.

The government claims Tappin provided undercover agents with false documents to circumvent the requirement for the batteries to be government licensed prior to being exported.

Tappin is being held at the Otero county jail in Chaparral, New Mexico, some 30 miles north of El Paso. Upon his arrival he was put in solitary confinement at his own request.

His case has touched a nerve in Britain, where many believe the fast-track extradition arrangements between the United Kingdom and the United States are unfairly weighted in Washington's favor, reaching up to Prime Minister David Cameron who promised to carefully review the treaty.

The two men already convicted in the case are Robert Gibson, another British national who pleaded guilty in April 2007 and was sentenced to 24 months in prison, and Robert Caldwell, an Oregon man who was found guilty in July of that year and sentenced to 20 months.

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