The mother of a British teen convicted of lying about being gang-raped by a group of Israelis at a hotel resort in Cyprus has backed calls for a tourism boycott of the country, according to a report.
Her 19-year-old daughter, who has not been identified for legal reasons, was found guilty of causing public mischief after accusing the Israeli tourists of raping her on July 17 at a hotel in Ayia Napa.
The teen, who recanted the rape claim, had said Cypriot police made her falsely confess to lying about the incident — something police have denied.
Her conviction prompted the British Foreign Office to express “serious concern” about the explosive case, according to the BBC, and a #BoycottCyprus hashtag took off on Twitter.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program, the teen’s mother said she believed her daughter’s experience in Ayia Napa was not an isolated incident.
“The place isn’t safe, it is absolutely not safe. And if you go and report something that’s happened to you, you’re either laughed at, as far as I can tell, or, in the worst case, something like what’s happened to my daughter may happen,” said the mom, whom the BBC did not name.
The woman said her daughter was experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, hallucinations and sleeping up to 20 hours a day because of a condition called hypersomnia.
“She needs to get back to the UK to get that treated. That’s my absolute primary focus. She can’t be treated here because hearing foreign men speaking loudly will trigger an episode,” she said.
“It needs resolving otherwise she’s going to carry on having this for the rest of her life,” the mom added.
She also revealed that her daughter had planned to start university this year after being accepted by all of the school to which she applied.
“She’d been offered a bursary at one of them — she’d got three unconditional offers,” she said, referring to a scholarship.
“So, no question, she would have gone to university, but it was in a career that she wouldn’t be able to do with this ‘public mischief’ verdict, so — again, life-changing for her — she needs to totally rethink her options,” she told the BBC.
Her daughter faces up to a year behind bars and a fine of 1,700 euros — about $1,900 – when she is sentenced Jan. 7.
The family plans to take the case to the Cyprus Supreme Court, but there is a long waiting list.
“Our lawyers are looking at what can be done to expedite that, and that’s maybe something the Foreign Office could help us with, so to get that as soon as we can,” her mother said.
The Foreign Office, which has described the conviction as “deeply distressing,” has pledged to raise the issue with Cypriot authorities.
The mother said she had not yet heard directly from the Foreign Office, but that she “would love” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to get involved, alleging that her daughter had experienced human rights violations.
Human rights activist Joan Smith told the BBC that the Foreign Office’s strong response to the verdict was a “very unusual” and “welcome” intervention.
“They wouldn’t have done it if they hadn’t felt that there were serious questions about the fairness of the trial that she’s been through, but also the events leading up to that trial,” she said.
The Cypriot government responded by saying it had “full confidence in the justice system and the courts.”
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