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Briton gets 3 years in missile sting

EL PASO — A federal judge sentenced a British businessman to nearly three years in prison Wednesday for trying to buy surface-to-air missile parts from undercover US agents to resell to Iran.

Christopher Tappin, 66, pleaded guilty in November to aiding and abetting to export defense materials in a deal that opened the door for him to serve part of his sentence in Britain, near his ailing wife. US District Judge David Briones said Wednesday that he would recommend that the Department of Justice approve any request by Tappin to be transferred to the United Kingdom.

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Tappin read a brief statement during the sentencing hearing in which he apologized for the crime. As part of the plea deal, prosecutors agreed not to oppose any request by Tappin to serve part of his 33-month sentence in Britain.

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