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British actor Stephen Fry is teaming with Reprieve to plead for the life of Akmal Shaikhis.

Akmal is a British national from London facing execution in China for smuggling drugs. He was arrested September 12, 2007, in Urumqi airport for allegedly carrying 4kg of heroin. Chinese authorities did not inform British Foreign and Commonwealth (FCO) of Akmal’s death sentence until several months after the ruling was made.

The Chinese court does not want to acknowledge that Akmal suffers from bipolar disorder. Reprieve has strong evidence that he is suffering from mental illness, and people who know him would agree. Fry suffers slightly from bipolar disorder as well and said, “Akmal is a very delusional figure,” and “has a history of extraordinary and perplexing behavior.”

In a video, Fry said, “I’m really hoping that somehow a message can get across to China, that no one in their right minds would condone the smuggling of drugs. China has every right, of course, to exact whatever sentence it sees fit as a nation. I hope they will understand that there are cases where people are simply not responsible for their actions.”

Akmal moved to Poland to set up an airline, but clearly did not have the financial means to do so. While he was in Poland he wrote a song with a man named Carlos and wanted to record it. Carlos told Akmal he knew people in the music business that would help him, so Akmal went to Kyrgyzstan.

The people he met with took his money and passport. Thinking he would be famous soon, Akmal believed he wouldn’t need those anymore. He was told if he went to China he could sing at a nightclub owned by a man named Okole.

On the way to China, Okole and Akmal spent time at a five star hotel in Tajikistan. Once again, Akmal thought it had to do with his celebrity status, even though he had no background of singing in public. Right before the flight to China was to take off, Okole handed Akmal a briefcase and said Akmal would have to go alone because there was only one seat left on the plane.

Drug smugglers took advantage of Akmal and his illness. They promised him stardom in China, but were just using him as a mule. He faces possible execution by a single shot to the back of the head. An appeal has gone through the High Court and been denied. It now has to go through the Supreme People’s Court, which only deals with errors of law. If this court denies appeal, he’ll face death in a matter of days.

Akmal told authorities the briefcase was not his and that he knew nothing about the drugs.

Fry “wouldn’t be standing here pleading clemency for someone if [he] didn’t think there was a real case for mercy.” He is strongly encouraging others to help him.

To join Stephen Fry in his fight to save Akmal, follow the three steps:

Click here to find out more about the appeal.

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