Cameron warns Pakistan: case of mentally unwell death sentence Brit being taken “extremely seriously”

January 29, 2014

David Cameron said today that he is “deeply concerned” about the case of a mentally unwell British man sentenced to death and that “the Pakistani authorities can be in no doubt of the seriousness with which we take these developments.”

Speaking during Prime Ministers Questions about the case of Mohammed Asghar, a 69 year-old-man from Edinburgh who was last week sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy, David Cameron went on: “We take this extremely seriously and we’re making that clear at every level.”

In 2010 Mr Asghar was sectioned in Scotland under the Mental Health Act, and taken to Royal Victoria Hospital in Edinburgh. Shortly afterwards he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Just months later, he was arrested in Pakistan on blasphemy charges.

Yesterday Mr Asghar’s lawyers were finally able to see their client after they were denied access to him since the sentence was handed down. Mr Asghar’s lawyers found him in an extremely fragile mental and physical state.

As a result of seeing him the lawyers were able to get authorisation forms for Mr Asghar’s appeal, which will be filed on Friday morning.

Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve’s death penalty team, said: “We are pleased that the Prime Minister recognises the severity of Mr Asghar’s case and is giving it the attention warranted. We are extremely worried about Mr Asghar’s mental health and urge the Pakistani and UK authorities to do everything they can to ensure he gets the treatment he desperately needs.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 553 8161/ 60 / 66 / clemency.wells@reprieve.org.uk  / donald.campbell@reprieve.org.uk  / alice.gillham@reprieve.org.uk