A British woman jailed in Egypt for possession of the opioid painkiller tramadol has been granted early release after 13 months behind bars.
Laura Plummer, now 34, was sentenced to three years in prison on Boxing Day 2017 for drug possession after she was stopped at Hurghada airport in October that year with 290 tramadol tablets in her suitcase.
The retail worker from Hull maintained that she was unaware the drug was a controlled substance in Egypt and said she was bringing the tablets into the country to help her partner’s back pain.
Plummer initially faced the more serious charge of drug trafficking, which carries a sentence of up to 25 years in prison or even the death penalty. After translation issues during one trial session, which led her to mistakenly plead guilty to the trafficking charge, she was later given three years in Egypt’s Qanatar women’s prison for possession of a controlled substance.
On 25 January, the anniversary of Egypt’s 2011 revolution, Plummer was one of 6,925 prisoners granted early release by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. She was then transferred to police custody in the Egyptian resort town of Hurghada, awaiting a flight home with her mother and sister.
Despite false reports that Plummer was due to be pardoned in January 2018, she remained in prison and was also denied an appeal last September. Her lawyer, Mohammed Osman, told the Guardian at the time that Plummer was due to spend at least a further nine months in prison in order to serve the minimum requirement of half her three-year sentence.
A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We are pleased Laura is now able to reunite with her family. Our staff provided extensive support to Laura and her family during her imprisonment, visiting her regularly to check on her welfare, and maintaining close contact with both her family and lawyer.”
FCO travel advice warns travellers to Egypt of the dangers of possessing illegal substances, as well as “publicising strongly negative opinions about Egypt or making political comments”. Despite the release of 6,925 prisoners, an estimated 60,000 political prisoners are believed to remain in Egypt, a figure repeatedly denied by Egyptian officials.
Karl Turner, the MP for East Hull, praised the work of the Foreign Office and expressed his relief at the news of Plummer’s release.
“I am delighted for Laura and her family that this terrible ordeal is now coming to an end,” he said. “I would like to thank the Foreign Office and particularly minister of state Alistair Burt MP for everything he and officials has done for Laura and her family since this saga begun. I very much hope that Laura can put this behind her and get on with her life now.”