Culture

British Woman Sentenced to 3 Years in Egyptian Prison for Smuggling Husband's Pain Pills

white pills spilled on table

A British woman, who was carrying painkillers for her Egyptian husband, has been sentenced to three years in prison. Laura Plummer, 33, was arrested in early October after authorities at Hurghada International Airport on the Red Sea found 290 tramadol tablets in her possession. At the time of her trip, British authorities had not yet listed the drug as illegal to carry into Egypt. (It did so about a month after her arrest.) Tramadol is a narcotic, and Plummer was not aware of this fact.

A legal painkiller in most countries, tramadol is illegal for private individuals to sell in Egypt. Plummer’s husband, whom she visits regularly and whom, according to CNN, she “married in 2014 through an unregistered contract, known in Egypt as an ‘urfi’ marriage,” suffers from back pain. Plummer’s lawyers have indicated that the woman may have made a mistaken confession to the court at the beginning of her trial. “Their client was asked whether she was intending to sell the drug. But she thought she was asked whether she simply possessed it, and said yes, the lawyers said.”

In addition to the three years in prison, the Egyptian court has fined Plummer with the equivalent of $5,611. She plans to appeal the decision, but in the meantime must spend time in jail. Plummer’s lawyer, Mohamed Othman, says that the Egyptian authorities are dealing with an innocent woman who has made a mistake. Othman said, “She had only 320 pills. Even the plane ticket is almost double the price of those pills. It is illogical that she will deal in tramadol.”

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt are aware of Plummer’s case.