24/02/2012 04:03 GMT | Updated 24/02/2012 06:05 GMT

Christopher Tappin Extradition: Businessman Says Terrorists Have More Human Rights Than Him

A retired British businessman who is to be escorted to America by US marshals on Friday after losing a two-year battle against extradition has said he would have more human rights if he were a terrorist.

Christopher Tappin, who is accused of conspiring to sell components for Iranian missiles, will meet the marshals at Heathrow police station and be taken to the US where he could face 35 years in jail.

He told the BBC he was "philosophical" about the prospect of never returning to the UK: "I am 65 years old now. If I was to serve 35 years than I would be 100 by the time I came back.

"There aren't many people who reach 100 so I have to be philosophical about these things, that I may never come home to my own country again."

He compared his case to that of radical cleric Abu Qatada, whose deportation was recently blocked, saying: "I feel that I don't have any human rights because I'm not a terrorist. If I was a terrorist, I would have more rights. I feel that I have been completely let down."

Tappin is the latest Briton to fight and lose an extradition battle with the US and his case increases pressure on the Government to review the arrangements.

David Cameron said on Wednesday that the government would carry out a "proper, sober and thoughtful" review.

But the prime minister added that it was important to remember that extradition treaties "show respect to each other's judicial processes and make sure that people who are accused of crimes are tried for those crimes".

"Britain can benefit from that as well," he said.

An independent review of the UK's extradition arrangements by retired Court of Appeal judge Sir Scott Baker last year found that the current treaty between the US and the UK was both balanced and fair.

But critics claim it is one-sided, with MPs, peers and campaigners all calling for reform. Former Tory leadership hopeful David Davis has said the case shows why "it is long past time that the Government delivered on its promises" to change extradition law.

Jago Russell, chief executive of Fair Trials International, said: "After years of talk about extradition reform, and countless cases of injustice, still nothing has been done.

"It is high time the Government brings forward concrete proposals to build much-needed safeguards into our laws."

Tappin denies attempting to sell batteries for surface-to-air missiles which were to be shipped from the US to Tehran via the Netherlands.

He has said that, for justice to be done, he should be tried by a jury of his peers in the UK, not a jury 3,000 miles away which does not share a common cultural background.

But magistrates and the High Court backed his extradition, and he exhausted his appeal options earlier this month when a last-ditch plea to the European Court of Human Rights was rejected.

Tappin, from Orpington, Kent, has claimed he is the victim of entrapment in a "sting" organised by US government agents.

Isabella Sankey, director of policy for civil rights group Liberty, said: "No British court has ever been allowed to examine any evidence against Christopher Tappin or consider whether he should be tried here.

"Even if a US jury eventually finds him not guilty, he'll still spend years in a Texan jail awaiting trial - thousands of miles from his home and sick wife.

"No-one is immune from such unfair treatment and it's high time the government put some common sense and compassion back into our extradition laws."