The family of a British woman who is being held in a Kuwaiti prison despite being cleared of drug charges has urged the British government to secure her release.

Sara Assayed, a 35-year-old primary school teacher whose parents live in Barry, Wales, was jailed for ten years in March this year after drugs were allegedly found in her car. 

But despite successfully appealing those charges in June, she remains in a prison in the Kuwaiti desert. 

Ms Assayed’s family say she is being kept in a solitary cell and have described the situation as "heart-breaking." The UK Foreign Office said it was offering assistance to a British national.

"We’re just worried and she’s crying. She calls at night and she’s crying," her father, Ziad Assayed, said in an interview with BBC Wales.

Ms Assayed was arrested in March 2019 after Kuwaiti police stopped her and another teacher in her car, and then claimed to have found drugs in the vehicle. 

Possessing or using drugs in Kuwait can lead to a jail sentence of up to ten years and suspects can end up in detention for several months even if they are found not guilty. In cases of drug trafficking, suspects face the death penalty in the conservative Gulf country. 

Ms Assayed was arrested in March 2019 after Kuwaiti police stopped her and another teacher in her car, and then claimed to have found drugs in the vehicle.

Mr Assayed has claimed the drugs were planted in his daughter’s car. "From the beginning, we believe that the police investigation was all fabricated. They took her car, they put something in the car and then it came back," he told BBC Wales.

After winning her appeal, Ms Assayed expected to be deported back to the UK, but the process has been stalled for reasons that are not immediately clear. 

“We just want them to accelerate her deportation…the worst feeling is the feeling of being helpless. She needs our help and we can’t help her. She’s there for the wrong reasons. It’s unjust for her to be in prison when she’s innocent," Mr Assayed said.

Sara Assayed's parents (Helen Conibear and father Ziad Assayed) have been trying to secure her release

Credit: BBC Wales/BBC Wales

The Assayed family has also criticised the response of the Foreign Office and the British embassy in Kuwait. "Every time I contact the Foreign Office they say: ‘We can’t do anything’," Mr Assayed said.

According to the family, Ms Assayed is living in "overcrowded" and "inhumane" conditions in a prison in the Kuwaiti desert.

Ms Assayed was born in Jordan and her family moved to Kuwait in 2002, when she was 17. She decided to stay in Kuwait to continue her career while her parents returned to Barry.

In an interview with the South Wales Argus, Sheree Conibear, Ms Assayed’s sister, claimed that the trial had lasted for just 30 minutes and that Sara had not been able to speak or defend herself.

The newspaper said that when Ms Assayed won her appeal, the judge cited a lack of evidence and inconsistencies in the claims made by Kuwaiti police.

A UK Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are assisting a British national who is detained in Kuwait and are in touch with their family and the local authorities."

The Telegraph has approached the government in Kuwait and the Kuwaiti embassy in London for comment.
Around 80,000 British nationals live in Kuwait and 10,000 Britons visit each year, though the Government currently advises against all but essential travel to the country due to the risk of coronavirus.

An online petition has been launched calling for Ms Assayed’s release which, at the time of writing, has more than 400 signatures.

According to the Welsh newspaper Barry and District News, Ms Assayed is an active supporter of animal rights. In 2013, she rescued a blind, starving dog from the streets of Kuwait and eventually found a new home for it in Wales.