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Iranian missile Christopher Tappin backed by US hacker's mum

PUBLISHED: 12:28 16 February 2011 | UPDATED: 12:28 16 February 2011

Gary McKinnon and his mother Janis Sharp

Gary McKinnon and his mother Janis Sharp

Archant

The mother of US Government files hacker Gary McKinnon is supporting the Kent county golf president whose extradition was ordered on Friday.

Christopher Tappin, at Westminster Magistrate Court

Christopher Tappin, of Larch Dene, Farnborough, was told by Judge John Zani at Westminster Magistrates Court that there was “plenty of evidence” against him which justified sending him for trial in the US.

The 64-year-old, who said he would appeal against the decision, is accused of selling batteries to be used in Iranian surface-to-air missiles.

He denies the charge, claiming he was entrapped by US agents.

Musician Janis Sharp, who has spent the last nine years fighting her son’s extradition, said: “I feel so sorry for Christopher Tappin.

Gary McKinnon outside Bow Magistrates Court in 2006 after failing in his bid to escape extradition

“He says he is confident and I really hope he is but he has no idea how difficult it is going to be for him and his wife.

“It takes over your life, there is nothing else you think about morning, noon and night. You have to fight every second of the day.

“I support him. He has to raise his profile. I approached musicians because I trust them but he is a golfer so perhaps he could get a trusted celebrity golfer to back him.”

She added: “It is frightening how much America is running this country.”

The court previously heard that Mr Tappin was caught in a US customs ‘sting operation’ set up to catch dishonest importers and exporters.

Mr Tappin claims a business contact handled a deal for his company, Brooklands Freight Services, in 2006, in which batteries worth £5,000 each were exported to Holland for use in the car industry.

The US authorities allege he knew they were to travel from Holland to Iran to be used in missile building.

Speaking outside court on Friday, Mr Tappin said he would lodge an appeal and “felt confident” he would win.

He added: “My case is strong enough to resist the Americans and I think they need to look at themselves and not conduct themselves in trying to interfere with other people’s lives in other countries.”

Ms Sharp has spent the best part of a decade battling the extradition of her son, an Asperger’s syndrome sufferer who admitted hacking into dozens of US Government files in 2001, claiming he was looking for evidence of UFOs.

Psychiatrists said there is a strong chance he will commit suicide if he is taken to America, where he faces the prospect that he will spend the rest of his life in jail if found guilty.

His mother has garnered support from celebrities, including Bob Geldof and former Pink Floyd member Dave Gilmour, who announced last week that he would pay for the 45-year-old’s mental health treatment after it was axed by his local Primary Care Trust in Enfield, north London.

A spokesperson for human rights organisation Liberty said: “In the cases of Gary McKinnon and Christopher Tappin and others, even if the alleged conduct took place in the UK via the internet, email or telephone and it’s possible to prosecute in the UK, there is nothing giving a British court the power to bar extradition on these grounds.”

In 2006, amendments were made to the Extradition Act that would allow a UK court to bar extradition on this basis, giving UK judges the power to decide in each case whether it is appropriate to order extradition. Yet these provisions have never been brought into force.

Speaking in court, Judge Zani said: “There is ample evidence that the alleged conspirators, including Mr Tappin, were willing and apparently enthusiastic participants in the crimes alleged.

“I have very carefully considered the submissions impressively made on Mr Tappin’s behalf but they are all rejected.

“I am therefore sending this request to the Secretary of State for a decision as to whether extradition to the United States of America should be ordered.”

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