A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Friday, February 24, 2012

Outrageous extradition to America of Christopher Tappin

David Cameron let him down - so says Christopher Tappin
The United States is very much using sledgehammers to crack walnuts when it comes to extradition. Not only that, but the American system of justice is quite hopeless in its approach to fairness. David Cameron is full of good words but very little decent action on occasions. Yet another extradition is under way. This time it is retired businessman Christopher Tappin who has been implicated in some FBI sting or whatever. Mr Tappin said as he was leaving the UK that he was feeling he had fewer rights than a terrorist. I'd say so. Pity his name isn't Abu Tappin!

What is it with the American justice system? Vengeance and vindictiveness are two sentiments high up on the list. Dr Samuel Mudd was thrown in a rotting stinking jail just because he mistakingly treated the wounds of Abraham Lincoln's assassin. Many others have felt this heaving desire for revenge. A bit like those who run after prison vans, thumping the sides shouting "Yer bastard!"

Mr. Tappin is leaving the UK wearing an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs. Get the humiliation in early, won't you. He denies all wrongdoing. But because of the draconian penalties for this charge - basically the prospect of dying in jail - he will no doubt be urged to plea bargain with some upstart public prosecutor. Quite wrong.

Fair trial in El Paso? Maybe, maybe not. But this extradition treaty is disgustingly one-sided and horrendously unfair. Instead of going after the likes of Mr.Tappin, why don't these FBI marshals do a proper job and stop the real crooks and villains supplying arms to the murderous despot in Syria?

The whole thing stinks!


Some time ago The Economist ran a feature on Why America Locks Up Too Many People. It was entirely too true.

Last October Ken Burns aired a three night history of Prohibition. That was a disaster for the United States. That disaster accounts for some of my libertarian leanings. It's also why I and others oppose the War on Drugs today.

I'm sorry to say that this post is extremely misleading. I would suggest you read the judgement from Tappin's appeal. It is freely available online. You may find it educational.

It would take me too long to point to all the misconceptions here but I'll pick a few:

1. He would not have more rights if he was a terrorist. Human right apply to all humans. That's sort of the point. Mr Tappin couldn't be extradited to Jordan either. Both Mr Tappin an Abu Qatada can be extradited to America.

2. You insinuate that it's unfair because he hasn't really done anything wrong. He was just caught by some FBI sting or whatever. Mr Tappin stands accused of a very serious offence. He was (allegedly) part of a conspiracy to sell components of MIM-23 Hawk surface to air missiles to Iran. Fellow conspirators have already pleaded guilty. The evidence against Mr Tappin is strong.

3. Fairness and justice is not advanced by someone avoiding justice. He's accused of a serious crime and will stand trial for it, in a court, with legal representation and before a jury. That's how justice works. You think he should get away with it because he says he hasn't done it? How naive are you?

First of all Ben, I don't consider myself naive. This post was meant to highlight two things. First the draconian nature of American justice, complete with its elements of humiliation and degradation. I find that rather objectionable as do many decent Americans fighting for a change in their country. By all means incarcerate bad people but don't demean those doing the imprisonment by encouraging inhumane activity.

Secondly, this extradition treaty is one sided in that the United States does not have to prove as much to get a case heard whereas the British require far higher degree of evidence. You cannot possibly think that is fair and equitable. A treaty should be balanced.

Plus I have concerns about the way the FBI entrapped Mr.Tappin. Many businesses in the export/import world are dealing with people they don't know. Plus governments procure and sell weapons one day and then change all the criteria the next. You make an accusation that "Fellow conspirators have already pleaded guilty.". That is implicating Mr.Tappin in something he strenuously denies.

Of course, if he has been doing wrong then he should appear before a court to account for it. My case is that the evidence should have been presented in a court in England first. As it stands, the FBI has a supposed case for aiding and abetting the Iranian military whereas Mr.Tappin says he was only aware of selling batteries to a company in the Netherlands.

You say the "evidence against Mr Tappin is strong". How come you know this other than via the FBI's sting? Do you work for them?

I would hope that Mr.Tappin stands his ground in court and that this case is well monitored. I just sniff a bit of War on Terror overkill which is highly damaging to both civil liberties and commercial wellbeing.

How long will it be before a UK citizen, indicted in absentia by a US court and extradited without any chance to challenge the evidence of their accuser in a UK court, then refuses to plea bargain for a lesser charge (because they are innocent) and faces the full might of prosecution, without the financial means to defend themselves? Given that scenario, they would probably be found guilty and faced with a typically draconian US sentence might then decide to end their lives whilst in US custody. Wake up HM government; this could happen on your watch!

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