A BARRY woman’s family are urging the Foreign Office to help – after she was falsely imprisoned in Kuwait and is in ‘appalling conditions’.
Sara Assayed, 35, from Barry has been living in Kuwait for 15 years and working as a primary school teacher.
Alongside this, she is also an animal rights activist who helps to rescue animals in Kuwait and rehome them across the world.
In February 2019, Ms Assayed was on her way home from work with a friend and was stopped by police. “The police arrested her, took her car and told her friend to leave,” said Ms Assayed’s sister Sheree Conibear.
“They kept calling her another name, they were looking for another woman.”
Ms Assayed was taken to prison in Kuwait and was accused of having drugs in her car. She was kept in prison for four months. During this time, her family got lawyers and the second lawyer got her bail in May of that year.
Ms Assayed was at home in Kuwait then until December 2020 when she was sent to prison before her trial. The Covid-19 pandemic initially caused a delay in the trial. Ms Conibear said that the trial lasted 30 minutes and that her sister was not allowed to speak or defend herself. She also said her lawyer was not able to ask her or her witnesses questions.
She was then sentenced to 10 years in prison after being found guilty on February 15. After an appeal at a higher court, Ms Assayed was found not guilty, with the judge saying the evidence was insignificant and the accusations made by the police did not match up.
The judge said that Ms Assayed would be deported. She was taken to the deportation centre to sign papers saying that she was responsible for her travel and to be deported before she was put back into prison. “She was put back in prison for two weeks in a cell for self-isolation.
“She has no fans, no window, no blanket in her cell and it barely fits one person. Her mental health is struggling. Last time we talked to her she said there are women and children in here all in overcrowded rooms and the heat. She said it is not fit for animals.
“We’ve asked the British Embassy in Kuwait and the FDCO for help and they have all said it is not for them to deal with and to stop contacting them. But on the embassy’s website it says to contact them if you get arrested. We’ve asked them to get her papers from the Kuwait government and they said that was not their job.
“While she was on bail, she went to the embassy and asked to see someone, saying she has no money and nowhere to stay and they would put her back in prison, but they refused to let her in.
“It’s been 26 days since she was told she would be deported, and they still haven’t done anything to help. How can she sign her papers, get her covid tests and get home with no money and no help? We can pay it ourselves but we don’t know how to go about it because no one will help.
“Other women in similar cases who have been found innocent have been given support from their embassies and have been deported back to their home countries in quicker time than this. The system has failed us. It’s heartbreaking.”
A spokesman for the FCDO said: “We are assisting a British national who is detained in Kuwait and are in touch with their family and the local authorities.”
There is a petition for the British Government to do more to help Ms Assayed https://www.change.org/p/public-british-woman-from-barry-wales-held-in-kuwait-prison?fbclid=IwAR1y83zS-tT3deZUEwmtjQD7-kn18X3HOtPQVTHI612uTqILxKQkIri2tEU