Iraq jails Briton for 10 years

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The Independent Online
The Foreign Office is to protest at what it called the 'totally disproportionate sentence' of 10 years' imprisonment imposed on a British long-distance cyclist charged with entering Iraq illegally, writes Rosie Waterhouse.

Michael Wainwright, 42, from Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, is the second Briton in a week to be jailed in Baghdad after being charged with illegal entry.

He was arrested after crossing into northern Iraq from Turkey while on a cycling trip to Australia. He is being held with Paul Ride, 33, from Walthamstow, north-east London, who was jailed for seven years last week after crossing into Iraqi territory from Kuwait.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said yesterday it would call in the head of the Iraqi interests section at the Jordanian embassy in London 'to protest in the strongest possible way at this totally disproportionate sentence and demand Mr Wainwright's release'. Fears have been expressed that Saddam Hussein might use the men as a human shield in the light of the British involvement in the air exclusion zone operation over southern Iraq. Mr Wainwright's widowed mother, Iris, 62, said: 'I am totally devastated by the length of the sentence. I just cannot believe what he has got, it is so unjust.'

The Foreign Office said the Red Cross had passed on information about the sentence, which was handed down on Monday after a trial last week.

The Foreign Office said earlier that a Red Cross representative had visited both men in Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison on Sunday and found them in good health and good spirits.