A FORMER university academic accused of conspiring to smuggle arms to Iran said he had been taken hostage by the UK Government, after walking free from court yesterday.

Nosratollah Tajik, a former Durham University teacher and Iranian ambassador to Jordan, was formally discharged from extradition proceedings at Westminster Magistrates’ Court – more than six years after he was arrested in a raid on his home in Coxhoe, County Durham, in October 2006.

Since then, the married father-of-two, who now lives in London, has been under house arrest, subject to curfew and electronically tagged.

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But he is now free. Yesterday’s hearing was a formality after the Home Office decided not to appeal a High Court ruling that it had failed to show reasonable cause for delays in the case.

Outside court, Mr Tajik said his attempted extradition had been unfair and inappropriate, harmed his health and humiliated him.

He said the undercover operation which led to his arrest, and which saw US Department of Homeland Security agents pretending to be co-conspirators, was illegal and questioned whether the UK authorities were aware of it or involved in it.

The High Court heard Mr Tajik’s case was delayed because of fears over the safety of British Embassy staff in Tehran.

But Mr Tajik said this was “kind of hostage taking”

and was politically motivated.

He praised the “brave and unprejudiced” judges, but said the UK and US governments had breached their human rights commitments and urged the European Court to consider the matter urgently.

He thanked the British and Iranian citizens and officials, the media and his lawyers for their support and said he planned to return to Iran within days.

“The outcomes of the court show that extradition should not be on hand (sic) of a politician but governments need to co-operate for a better and secure world without putting individuals and their families at risk and humiliation,” he said.

“I learnt a lot from this society.

I hope to use these experiences in the future making people closer to each other and governments understand each other in a fair and better manner.”

If Mr Tajik had been extradited and convicted, he could have been jailed for at least ten years.