Celebrities urge PM to help Pakistan jail man

Mohammad Asghar
Mohammad Asghar
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CELEBRITIES have added their voices to calls for Prime Minister David Cameron to intervene in the case of Edinburgh grandfather Mohammad Asghar, who was shot in a Pakistani prison.

The Leith grocer – who is being held after being sentenced to death on blasphemy charges – now has backing from Stephen Fry, Frankie Boyle and David Morrissey.

Campaigners are urging the UK Government to do all it can to help bring the 70-year-old, who suffers from severe mental illness, back to this country.

Mr Asghar was shot in 
Adiala prison in Rawalpindi last week, reportedly by a police officer or prison guard.

He is currently in intensive care, but concerns have been raised for his safety by legal charity Reprieve after it was revealed the Pakistani authorities planned to return him to the jail.

Reprieve said people accused or convicted of blasphemy in Pakistan face a high level of risk from attacks by religious extremists.

Mr Asghar’s daughter, Jasmine, has called on Mr Cameron to help ensure that as soon as he is well enough to travel, he is brought back to the UK.

That call was echoed by Stephen Fry, who tweeted: “Govt must not let mentally ill Brit Mohammad Asghar be returned to prison. They must do all they can to get him home.”

Comedian Frankie Boyle tweeted: “70yo Scotsman Mohammad Asghar shot, under death sentence for blasphemy, surely government should get him home.”

Al Murray urged his followers to sign a 38 Degrees petition for the Prime Minister to bring Mr Asghar home, saying it “means a lot to me”.

And in a newspaper article, David Morrissey wrote: “It is surely not too much to ask that the British government exert every political sinew to protect him at this desperate stage.”

Scottish External Affairs Minister Humza Yousaf said ministers at Holyrood were “extremely concerned” and were doing all in their power to ensure Mr Asghar’s health, safety and security.

He said First Minister Alex Salmond had “directly intervened in this case” and had held face-to-face talks with Muhammad Sarwar, the governor of the Punjab, the region of Pakistan where Mr Asghar is being held.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com