Leila Fitton said her “loving pensioner” father Jim, who was sentenced to 15 years in Iraq, was subjected to 13 weeks of “emotional purgatory” before being hit with a “ridiculously harsh” sentence
Image: Fitton Family / SWNS)
The daughter of a Brit jailed in Iraq for smuggling archaeological “rubbles” says she is “appalled” by her beloved father’s well-being.
Father-of-two Jim Fitton, 66, was sentenced to 15 years in prison by a Baghdad court earlier this month for attempting to leave the country with ancient fragments.
Mr Fitton – who could have been executed for the crime – was arrested on his first visit to the country during a geology and archeology tour.
German national Volker Waldmann, who was arrested with Mr Fitton, was acquitted of the same charges.
At a news conference today, his daughter Leila Fitton explained how the family is kept in the dark about the “loving pensioner” and the conditions in which he lives.
Ms Fitton said: “We have no knowledge of the conditions he is facing and are afraid of what he has to go through on a daily basis.
“My heart beats every time the phone rings.
“My father is not a criminal, he is a loving pensioner who just wants to spend his remaining years reading books, enjoying the outdoors and spending time with his family.
“He had no criminal intent and actually didn’t know what he was doing was a crime.
“He is the victim of a terrible injustice.”
Ms Fitton told reporters the shards of pottery that led to Mr Fitton’s “ridiculously harsh” sentence were “no more than archaeological debris tossed aside”.
She said: “After 13 weeks of emotional purgatory and a grueling trial, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison – a highly political, unfair and ridiculously harsh sentence for attempting to export artifacts from Iraq.
“These artifacts are really little more than discarded archaeological debris the size of your fingernail and are generally regarded as having no cultural or economic value.
Sam Tasker / SWNS)
“They are scattered all over the ground at the Eridu site, unprotected and with no signs warning of their removal.”
Despite his defence, Mr Fitton claimed that he and others in the group were encouraged to take them home as “souvenirs of the trip”, Ms Fitton said.
She added: “He now faces a death sentence in an incommunicado general population prison in Baghdad.”
Last week, Wera Hobhouse MP for Bath – where Mr Fitton’s family lives – told The Mirror how the FCDO “fell asleep at the wheel” in his case.
Fitton family / SWNS)
“All we know from the family is that they will appeal,” she explained.
“My impression is that the Foreign Office did very little, slept at the wheel, I don’t know.”
Ms Hobhouse said she and Leila’s partner Sam Tasker had managed to arrange urgent meetings with Amanda Milling, the Tory Secretary of State for Asia and the Middle East, but the responses from her office were “very cautious” and “slow”.
“And the answer, as always, is that we don’t deal with these things in the chamber and not in public, but behind closed doors,” she told Der Spiegel.
Agency Anadolu via Getty Images)
Mr Tasker echoed Ms Hobhouse’s claims today and spoke of his anger at the “utter lack of compassion and empathy” of the ministry’s junior ministers.
He also criticized the “complete lack of commitment from the foreign minister herself”.
He continued, “The Secretary of State has never, to our knowledge, acknowledged Jim’s existence.”
The Mirror has reached out to the FCDO for comment.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/family-loving-retiree-brit-jailed-27234342 Family of 'loving pensioner' Brit jailed abroad 'fear' of Iraqi prison conditions - World News