The Sun has been accused of worsening Laura Plummer’s chances of being released from an overcrowded Egyptian jail after it falsely reported that she would be pardoned. Her family traveled to Cairo, but she was not released.
Plummer, 33, has been locked up in an Egyptian “hell hole” since December 26 after being found with nearly 300 Tramadol pills in her suitcase. She says she was transporting the pills for her Egyptian husband Omar Abd El Azim, 31, who suffers from back pain as a result of a car crash.
Over the weekend, The Sun tabloid “exclusively” revealed Plummer that would walk free after appearing on a pardon list issued by Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Plummer was told she was going home and her family traveled to the country to greet her.
A day later, however, The Sun claimed the pardon had been “withdrawn.”
Members of a support group for Plummer say the pardon was never officially confirmed by Egyptian officials.
“There was never a pardon. It has not been withdrawn,” said Brigette Landon, one of Plummer’s supporters.
“I 99 percent blame The Sun as they shouldn’t have splashed it across their front pages without confirming it through official channels in Egypt. As journalists, they have a responsibility to check their facts to the best of their ability and they failed to do that,” she said.
“They created a media storm on the say-so of someone unofficial, which was irresponsible and cruel in my opinion.
“Even worse, they are now trying to pin the blame on the Egyptian authorities. In this case, the Egyptian government seems to be squeaky clean.”
She added: “The story will come out I’m sure when they have worked out how to explain this huge screw-up.
Landon told RT: “Sadly they [Plummer family] have fallen foul of the tabloid press, primarily The Sun, who seem to be exploiting their naivety.
“The pardon was never granted, I’m sure when the family get some professional PR support, the truth will come out.
“In the meantime, the speculation and false news will continue. It saddens me that the blame is being placed at Egypt’s door when this is completely the fault of the British media. There was no pardon, so how could it have been revoked?”
Some of Plummer’s supporters are angry about how her family were given “false hope.” They had traveled to Egypt to greet Plummer as she was released, and posed for a picture at the airport with the front page of The Sun that read: “Egypt frees pill Brit.”
The family is yet to appeal Plummer’s sentence. It is understood that an appeal could take 10 months to go to court.
Amine Mecifi, another member of Plummer’s support group, claims that after spending two days trawling the Egyptian media, she thinks “this pardon doesn’t exist and never existed in first place.”
She added The Sun’s “PR” stunt risks worsening Plummer’s situation. “Whoever is managing the communication about this case is turning it into a PR disaster. Egyptians authorities won’t be impressed by the mess caused by British media.
“Chances of pardon for foreigners are already slim but creating an incident about it and making Egyptian authorities feel manipulated about a potential pardon, effectively reduces the chances to nil.
“They can try to submit her name through human rights organization to the new pardon commission for next year but ideally without sharing it with The Sun or the Daily Mail,” said Mecifi.
Another member, Chad Smith, added: “I’m more annoyed as The Sun first ran this story on Thursday, two days before pardons were made… how on Earth could they get that info? Looks to me they were taking a calculated risk to lure the family into promising them to speak to them only for nothing more than sales.”
An Egyptian source told The Mirror: “There was never any official confirmation from us. She has not yet appealed so there are other avenues for her to try.
“We were very confused when we started to see the media reports. You can only get a pardon where you have exhausted all other options. There was no way this was ever going to happen.”
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