[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/29/shaikh.vigil.china.embassy.jpg caption="Supporters of British national Akmal Shaikh hold a vigil at the Chinese Embassy in London."]
The British government condemned China's execution of a British national Tuesday on drug smuggling charges.
"I ... am appalled and disappointed that our persistent requests for clemency have not been granted," Prime Minister Gordon Brown said. "I am particularly concerned that no mental health assessment was undertaken."
Akmal Shaikh was convicted of carrying up to 4 kilograms (8.8 pounds) of heroin at the Urumqi Airport in September 2007. According to Chinese law, 50 grams (1.76 ounces) is the threshold for the death penalty.
China defended the execution in a statement issued by the Chinese Embassy in London.
Video: China executes British citizen
"Drug trafficking is a grave crime worldwide," the statement said. "The concerns of the British side have been duly noted and taken into consideration by the Chinese judicial authorities in the legal process, and Mr. Shaikh's rights and interests under Chinese law are properly respected and guaranteed."
The 53-year-old is the first European executed in China in 50 years, according to the British legal group Reprieve.
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