Family of Briton jailed in notorious Egyptian prison distraught after Sisi's pardon 'withdrawn'

Family of Briton jailed in notorious Egyptian prison distraught after Sisi's pardon 'withdrawn'
Laura Plummer was expecting a presidential pardon from 'hell hole' Egyptian jail, only for the British Embassy to inform her family that there had been a 'mistake'
2 min read
30 January, 2018
Plummer had just begun her three-year sentence in a notorious Cairo jail [Facebook]

The family of imprisoned Briton Laura Plummer, held in a notorious Egyptian prison, were left distraught after the presidential pardon was 'withdrawn'.

The 33-year-old from Hull was sentenced to three years in prison after she was found with 290 tablets of the opioid painkiller Tramadol in her suitcase at Hurghada airport, a Red Sea destination popular with foreign tourists.

Plummer, a shop assistant, claimed the painkillers, which are legal in the UK, were for her Egyptian husband's back pain. 

The opioid is banned in Egypt due to its widespread use as a heroin substitute. The north African country has a growing rate of opioid and heroin use, as well as a spiralling HIV epidemic.

Plummer's family were expecting her release on Sunday after being told that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi may grant her a presidential pardon, which he customarily issues on a "day of mercy" marking the anniversary of Egypt's revolution on 25th January.

Despite her name appearing on a presidential pardon list, the British Embassy in Cairo told her family that there had been a 'mistake', and she now faces a further six months before an appeal could be heard.

British police said on Monday that a probe into how she got hold of the drugs, available only on prescription in the UK, is continuing.

An East Yorkshire Police spokesman said: "We are trying to determine if a criminal act may have taken place."

"We are still looking into the circumstances of how the prescription drugs came to be in her possession and if any further individual has committed any offences. This investigation is still ongoing."

Plummer was reportedly suicidal due to the cramped and squalid conditions at the notorious al-Qanater prison in Cairo, where she was being held.

President Sisi previously said that there were no political prisoners in Egypt, while human right groups estimate there are nearly 60,000 political prisoners currently held. 

In the prisons, the torture epidemic is nothing short of 'crime against humanity'. Human Rights Watch found that Egypt's regular police and national security officers enjoy a culture of near total impunity, and routinely torture political detainees with techniques that include beatings, electric shocks, stress positions, and sometimes rape.