Madrid: The Spanish government expressed support on Thursday to the family of a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death under the South Asian country's controversial blasphemy law.

Spain's deputy foreign minister, Gonzalo de Benito, met Asia Bibi’s husband on Thursday, Asiq Mashi, who traveled to Madrid with one of the couple's children to accept an award on his wife's behalf.

De Benito asked about Bibi's situation and voiced solidarity with her family, the foreign ministry said in a statement. The deputy minister also reiterated Spain's support for Bibi's battle against her blasphemy conviction.

As part of its policy of promoting human rights, the Spanish government is fully committed to defending religious freedom and to advocating for the abolition of capital punishment, De Benito said.

"Through international pressure, (Bibi) can be liberated," Mashi told in an interview here on Wednesday, while adding that his wife would no longer be safe in Pakistan even if she leaves jail.

Bibi's plight has inspired a global campaign and figures such as Pope Benedict XVI have urged Pakistan's government to pardon the 47-year-old mother of five. People inside Pakistan have also spoken up for Bibi, including a provincial governor and a Christian government minister who were assassinated by radical Islamists for their stand against the blasphemy law.

Bibi was sentenced in November 2010 to death by hanging after a conviction for blasphemy based on accusations by Muslim neighbours that she had contaminated their drinking water by touching the vessel with her "impure" Christian hands. The sentence remains on appeal and no date has been set for her execution.


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