United Kingdom urged to give asylum to Asia Bibi

Asia Bibi is in hiding in Paksitan under state protection after she was freed from death row

Asia Bibi is in hiding in Paksitan under state protection after she was freed from death row Credit Reuters

The federal government is talking with Pakistan about the possibilty of bringing a Pakistani woman, who was recently released from death row, to Canada.

Bibi was convicted of blasphemy in 2010 and spent eight years on death row before being acquitted.

"We are in discussions with the Pakistani government", Trudeau said in an interview with AFP in Paris, where he was attending a peace conference organised by French President Emmanuel Macron.

His comments were confirmed by a spokesperson in Ottawa.

Canada is a welcoming country, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

On Tuesday, Pakistan's foreign ministry said Bibi's situation was discussed when Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was called by his Canadian counterpart the previous day.

Bibi is now hiding at an undisclosed "safe place".

Bibi, a mother of five who is believed to now be in her 50's, has been blocked from leaving the country amid a wave of protests over her acquittal.

"Foreign Minister Qureshi said Asia Bibi is our national and Pakistan fully respects her legal rights", ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal said on social network Twitter.

Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson is also among the politicians urging the United Kingdom government to help her.

Last week it emerged that Dutch officials in Islamabad were seeking assurances from Pakistan's government about the safety of ambassador Ardi Stoios-Braken after he was targeted by Islamist political party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).

Tenzin Dorjee, the USCIRF chief, said: "The case of Asia Bibi illustrates the extent to which blasphemy laws can be exploited to target minority communities".

In a country where more than 60 people have been killed by radical mobs after being accused of blasphemy, Bibi and her family are in grave danger. She has always denied the allegations. The Netherlands offered temporary asylum to Bibi's lawyer, Saiful Malook, after he faced death threats.

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