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UK Accused of Failing Briton Shot While on Death Row in Pakistan

Mohammad Asghar, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, was sentenced to death on blasphemy charges. His family says they were told to keep quiet and lied to by the UK government.

by Ben Bryant
Sep 29 2014, 7:15pm

Image via Reuters

The daughter of a mentally-ill Briton shot in a Pakistani jail last week while awaiting the death penalty for blasphemy has accused the British government of failing to protect her father.

Jasmine Asghar called on Prime Minister David Cameron to secure Mohammad Asghar's safety after it was revealed that Pakistani police plan to return him to the same prison in which he was shot by a prison guard on Thursday.

Mohammad Asghar, 70, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, was sentenced to death earlier this year on blasphemy charges, and will spend two more days in an intensive care unit before he is moved to Adiala prison.

Jasmine Asghar told BBC Radio 4's Today program: "The British government have told us to stay quiet.

"They said because the case was so sensitive they would do whatever they can. They promised us a lot of things. They promised that my dad would be safe in prison; we got extra security for my dad in prison.

"But now, obviously him getting shot by a police officer, these are the very people who are meant to be protecting my dad, and they haven't. The government have lied to us."

Mohammad Asghar, who is from Edinburgh, was arrested in 2010 in Rawalpindi following a dispute with a tenant who brought a blasphemy complaint against him.

Cameron has previously expressed concern over the case but Asghar's family have called on him to do more.

The family solicitor Aamer Anwar has called for the prime minister to intervene and arrange Asghar's transfer to a secure medical facility and, ultimately, the UK.

Last week Cameron made a direct appeal to the Iranian president over the case of British-Iranian woman Ghoncheh Ghuvami, who is currently being held in an Iranian prison on charges of propaganda for trying to watch a volleyball match.

Maya Foa, director of death row charity Reprieve's death penalty team, told VICE News: "Mr Asghar's two extra days in hospital mean there is a short window of opportunity here for David Cameron to step in and ensure his safety. Mr Asghar is an extremely vulnerable man and he must not be sent back to prison where there are very real threats to his life.

"The British government must ensure that he is held in a secure medical facility where he can receive the treatment he so desperately needs, both for his recent injuries and his existing mental illness."

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson told VICE News: "Consular officials visited Mr Asghar over the course of the weekend and continue to support him and remain in close touch with the hospital and prison authorities.

"We have previously raised our concerns about his case, including through the former foreign secretary, and continue to do so at a senior level."

Follow Ben Bryant on Twitter: @benbryant

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