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Tappin's 'barbaric' time in US jail

A retired British businessman extradited to the United States on arms dealing charges almost had a breakdown after 10 "barbaric" days in solitary confinement in a US prison, it has been reported.

Christopher Tappin, 65, in an interview with the Times, said he was deprived of food and access to the British consul and treated like a criminal in the Otero County detention centre in New Mexico, despite having yet to stand trial.

Mr Tappin, from Orpington, Kent, was bailed on Wednesday after his family paid 50,000 dollars (£31,026) of a one million-dollar (£620,527) bond, a family spokeswoman said.

He told the Times there had been a "presumption of guilt from the very beginning" by authorities. "Psychologically I felt myself slipping away...I can't tell you how difficult it was," he told the newspaper.

Speaking about the days when he was taken from the detention centre to court for bail hearings, he added: "They were mentally excruciating days."

He also told the paper how after being freed from solitary confinement he was kept in a cell with six other inmates in a cell for those requiring protection from the rest of the prison population.

A family spokeswoman said the family of the the former president of the Kent Golf Union was planning to visit him in Texas, where he must stay, as soon as possible.

Speaking after the judge set the terms of his release, Mr Tappin's wife Elaine said she was "grateful for the judge's humanity".

Mrs Tappin said her husband had been "unnecessarily locked up" for more than eight weeks and "abandoned by the authorities in his own country". By releasing him on bail, the judge had given him an opportunity to challenge the allegations made against him, she said.

Tappin who denies selling batteries for surface-to-air missiles to Iran, faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted at his trial in El Paso, Texas.

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