Britain will step up pressure on China in coming days to show clemency for a Briton set to be executed for drug smuggling, with ties already strained over a spat on the climate conference.
Akmal Shaikh, 53, whose family and supporters say he probably has bipolar disorder, faces the death penalty next week after losing his final appeal on Monday in China’s Supreme Court, his lawyers said.
If carried out, Shaikh would become the first citizen from what is now a EU member nation to be executed in China in 50 years, according to the lawyers from the charity Reprieve.
“We can confirm that Chinese authorities have informed us that Akmal Shaikh is due to be executed on 29 December,” a British Foreign Office spokesman said on Monday. “We are alarmed and deeply concerned at this news.”
Shaikh, from London, was arrested in 2007 in Urumqi with 4kg of heroin. Campaigners say he was duped by a gang into carrying a suitcase for them.
The Foreign Office said Chinese officials had not taken Shaikh’s mental health into account despite repeated requests by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, government ministers and the EU.
Brown pressed the case to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) in a telephone call earlier this month, officials have said.
Reprieve said it had medical evidence that Shaikh, who is married with three children, suffered from a delusion that he was going to China to record a hit single that would usher in world peace.