Tens of thousands of people have campaigned for the release of a retired British geologist facing the death penalty in Iraq after being accused of smuggling.
The pressure is now growing on the government to take urgent action and help father of two Jim Fitton, 66, whose “life is in balance”, supporters say.
Within days of his family’s launch, a petition had already garnered more than 95,000 signatures.
His daughter Leila and her husband Sam Tasker, from Bath, Somerset, have also revealed that his conviction this month will likely coincide with a long-planned celebration of their marriage, which was held last year amid coronavirus restrictions.
They said: “There’s never a good time for such a thing to happen, but we’re one week away from what should be the happiest day of our lives, and the culmination of more than two years of planning, and it’s changed in an absolute living nightmare. “
Mr Fitton worked as a geologist for oil and gas companies throughout his career and lived in his adopted house in Malaysia with his wife, Sarijah.
COVID travel rules mean Mr Fitton’s daughter has not seen him for more than two years.
Mr Fitton has been detained for five weeks in Iraq after allegedly trying to smuggle historical artifacts out of the country.
His family said Mr Fitton collected stones and scraps of broken pottery as souvenirs while visiting a site in Eridu, in the south-east of the country, as part of an organized tour of geology and archeology.
But she added that the items were judged to be artifacts under Iraqi law and the charge against Mr Fitton states “anyone who exports or intends to export an antiquity from Iraq will be punishable by execution”.
The case in connection with the March incident is expected to go to trial in the week of May 8.
Mr Fitton’s family described the response to the petition as “unbelievable”, adding in a statement: “You really appreciate the support of old colleagues, good friends, relatives and complete strangers who did not allow this to happen. to go unnoticed.
“We will continue to fight while we continue to have you on our backs.”
The family said their lawyer had drafted a proposal under Iraqi law to close the case for trial, but they needed the Foreign Office to “put their weight behind the plan and endorse it” so they could hold a high-level meeting with judicial officials can secure in the country.
Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, has raised his issue with ministers in the Lower House.
She said: “We are pressuring the Foreign Office to intervene, but unfortunately they continue to refuse.
“I can not understand why the Foreign Office does not intervene when Jim’s life is in balance.”
She added: “The Foreign Office must do everything in its power to bring Jim back to his family.”
The Foreign Office has said it provides consular support and is in contact with local authorities.
Foreign Minister Amanda Milling, in a letter to Ms Hobhouse, said last week: “We understand the urgency of the case, and have expressed all our concerns with the Iraqi authorities regarding the possible imposition of the death penalty in the case. of Mr. Fitton and the The opposition of the United Kingdom to the death penalty in all circumstances as a principle.
Jim Fitton: Nearly 100,000 return campaign to free British geologist facing death penalty in Iraq | World news
Source link Jim Fitton: Nearly 100,000 return campaign to free British geologist facing death penalty in Iraq | World news