British scientist 'caught with 2kg of cocaine' held in Argentina

 

A distinguished British scientist has been arrested in Argentina after police allegedly found two kilograms of cocaine in his suitcase.

Oxford-educated Paul Frampton was seized by detectives at Buenos Aires airport and is being held in jail on suspicion of drugs trafficking.

The 68-year-old astrophysics professor is said to have claimed the drugs were planted in his bag during a honeytrap sting involving a "well-known model" he met on the internet.

Professor Frampton, who holds three degrees from Oxford University, reportedly told investigators the woman's agent persuaded him to carry a suitcase across the border.

He was seized as he boarded a plane to Peru on 23 January at Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires after police found the cocaine wrapped in gift paper inside the lining of his case.

Since his arrest, Professor Frampton has been held at Villa Devoto jail, scene of one of the worst prison riots in Argentina resulting in 62 deaths in 1978.

The Worcestershire-born scientist, who now lives and works in the United States, said: "I am innocent. I will not be convicted. It is just that the Argentinian justice system is very slow.

"There is easily enough evidence that I didn't know there were drugs in the bag, and that will come out."

Professor Frampton reportedly told investigators he was set up after flying to Argentina to meet a woman he had romanced over the internet. In a statement to investigating judge Juan Galvan Grenway, which was leaked to a local newspaper, he said: "The reason for my trip to South America was to meet a female friend, who is a well-known model, but I wasn't able to meet her. I believe my friend's representative, who was the one who gave me the flight tickets, is probably the person responsible for the drugs in the suitcase."

Argentine investigators do not believe him and have remanded him in custody. A spokesman said: "It is improbable and it wouldn't be likely that a 68-year-old man with a solid university education has come to the country to meet up with a female friend, and despite not having had contact with her, has agreed to carry a suitcase apparently belonging to her with him."

Friends of Professor Frampton, who is suspended without pay from the University of North Carolina, are fighting to free him from prison. Former colleague David Stallard said: "I knew Paul professionally and socially for 17 years.

"He never showed any interest in drugs and it is inconceivable to me that he intentionally smuggled cocaine. He must have been duped."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk