Briton sent to U.S. on Iran missile plot charges

Retired businessman Christopher Tappin, with his wife Elaine, on Feb. 24, 2012, at Heathrow Airport in England. Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

LONDON - A retired British businessman accused of plotting to sell missile components to Iran is in transit to the United States to face charges.

Christopher Tappin is expected to arrive in the United States on Friday afternoon after failing to overturn an extradition order.

Tappin faces charges in El Paso, Texas, over allegations that he offered in 2006 to sell specialized batteries for Hawk missiles for $25,000 to undercover American agents posing as Iranians.

U.K. to send Iran missile suspect to U.S. courts

The 65-year-old Tappin faces up to 35 years in jail if convicted.

He denies wrongdoing, saying he was the victim of a sting operation.

Upon his arrival at London's Heathrow Airport to be handed over to U.S. officials Friday, the white-haired Tappin said he was being treated in a disgraceful manner.

Tappin said he is receiving harsher treatment than Abu Qatada, a radical, Jordanian-born cleric accused of ties to al Qaeda who recently received bail in London.

"I have no rights," Tappin told reporters as his wife looked on in tears just before their parting. "Abu Qatada is walking the streets of London today and we cannot extradite him. He has more rights than I have. If I was a terrorist, I would not be going to America. I think it's a shame, a disgrace."

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