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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

UK woman arrested in Egypt for carrying painkillers

Her family has been told she is facing either 25 years in prison or the death penalty, her mother told The Sun newspaper

Laura Plummer was arrested at Hurghada's international airport, seen here on August 21, 2016. Gleb Garanich / Reuters
Laura Plummer was arrested at Hurghada's international airport, seen here on August 21, 2016. Gleb Garanich / Reuters

A British woman has been arrested at an Egyptian airport for carrying painkillers, local media has reported.

Laura Plummer, 33, was carrying 290 tramadol tablets and some naproxen in her suitcase when she was detained at Hurghada airport last month, The Sun newspaper reported.

Tramadol is legal in Britain — though only on prescription — but illegal in Egypt where it is known to be used as a heroin substitute.

Ms Plummer had flown into the Red Sea resort city for a two-week holiday with her Egyptian husband, Omar, also 33. The painkillers were reportedly for Ms Plummer's husband, who suffers from back pain.

Her family has been told she is now facing either 25 years in prison or the death penalty, her mother, Roberta Sinclair, told The Sun.

"She had no idea she was doing anything wrong," said Ms Sinclair, who has been out to Egypt to visit her daughter.

“The painkillers were placed at the top of her suitcase, she wasn’t hiding them."

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After being detained at Hurhada airport on October 9, Ms Plummer signed her name beneath a 38-page statement in Arabic, believing that she would then be able to leave, The Sun reported. Since then, however, she has been held in jail. Ms Sinclair said her daughter had been in court twice, each time being returned to jail for 15 days. She is due back in court on Thursday.

The 33-year-old's family believe she is being held on suspicion of what Egyptian authorities consider drug trafficking, the Guardian newspaper reported.

Ms Plummer, a shop worker from the northern English city of Hull, met her husband, Omar, four years ago and flies out to Egypt four times a year to visit him.

Her father, Nevile Plummer, said his daughter's hair had started falling out due to stress.

“I don’t think she’s tough enough to survive it,” he added.

Ms Plummer's two sisters have also travelled to Egypt to visit her since her arrest.

"They (her mother and sisters) say she’s unrecognisable”, said Mr Plummer. “When they seen her, she’s like a zombie, they said.”

The British foreign office confirmed it was "supporting a British woman and her family following her detention in Egypt".