Friday, February 24, 2012

Christopher Tappin Extradition

Christopher Tappin's extradition to the US is appropriate. According to the US case, in 2006, Tappin attempted to sell export restricted MIM-23 Hawk missile batteries to Iran. Unknown to him however, he was dealing with undercover US agents. The problem with the arguments of those who state that he should not be extradited are two-fold.

First, the accusation against Mr. Tappin is extremely serious and has been found to meet the reasonable suspicion evidential burden that is imposed on extradition requests by the English courts. The MIM-23 system is the foundational basis for Iran's newest air defense system. In this regard, if Iran is able to acquire technology to support their air defenses, then this technology contributes to the endangerment of American (or British) pilots who may one day be called to militarily contest air space with those systems. We have a responsibility to deny potential adversaries the access to military tools that they could use against us.

Second, just because Mr. Tappin and Mr. McKinnon have well developed PR strategies to win British public support, it doesn't mean that they should be able to escape justice if they are guilty. Gary McKinnon is accused of taking down the Washington DC military computer network for an entire day. If the US had suffered a terrorist attack or major disaster on that day, American citizens could have died as a result of the problems that this communications failure caused. Extradition serves the cause of justice.

Although there are some who claim that the current US-UK extradition treaty is unfair, they are wrong. Between Jan 2004 and July 2011, 7 extradition requests by the US to the UK were rejected. In the same time period, the US rejected no UK extradition requests. These are the facts and justice is built on facts and not emotion. Mr. Tappin is innocent until proven guilty, he will have his day in court.

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