Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Nigerian prisoner jailed in China hid plea for help in Christmas cards as he claims they were being forced to work in prison against their wish

A Nigerian prisoner who wrote a chilling plea on a Tesco Christmas card from inside a Chinese jail has said he and a fellow inmate wrote similar messages in 10 boxes of cards.

The man, named only as Antoine, who got out the prison two months ago after a four-year stretch for alleged contract fraud, heard one of his notes had been found after he returned home.

The message said it was from foreign residents in Shanghai's Qingpu prison and claimed detainees were forced to work 'against our will'.

It was found by Florence Widdicombe from Tooting, south London, and asked her to contact former journalist Peter Humphrey, which the schoolgirl's father did.

Antoine, 35, told the Sunday Times: 'We thought about putting a message in some of the products we were forced to work on for the Chinese market.

'But we knew these cards were going to the UK. It was fantastic when a card was found in London — we were successful.'

Antoine and the other Nigerian, who was cage for life for drug offences, decided to act last summer after a new warden last April said foreign prisoners would join Chinese ones in forced labour.

Antoine wrote six of the messages and his partner wrote four.

Tesco suspended the Chinese supplier of the Christmas cards last week and said it had launched an investigation.

It is now unlikely the nine other message will be found.

Last week China denied the 'made up' claims that prisoners were being used as slaves in the jail.