ISLAMABAD/LONDON - The family of a mentally ill British man sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy has urged London to intervene to seek his release.

Muhammad Asghar was sentenced by a court in Rawalpindi last week for writing letters claiming to be a prophet of Islam. The special court inside Rawalpindi's Adiala Jail, where Asghar is being held, rejected defence claims that Asghar has mental health problems. But a statement from the British charity Reprieve, which is helping Asghar's family, said the 69-year-old was detained by authorities in Scotland in 2010.

 because of mental problems and diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

"We are really upset and concerned that they will never release him and that he will die in jail. He has already attempted suicide unsuccessfully," Asghar's family said in the statement released on Monday.

"We just want him back home where hopefully he can be treated for and recover from his mental illness.

"We urge the British Government to intervene and bring him home to us where he will be safe."

The family says the allegations against Asghar stem from a property dispute with one of his tenants.

Reprieve also complained that Asghar's legal team had been denied access to him since his conviction.

Meanwhile, Senior Foreign Office Minister Baroness Warsi has condemned death sentence of British national in Pakistan.

In a statement, Warsi said: "We are aware that Muhammad Asghar was sentenced to death by a court in Rawalpindi. It is the longstanding policy of Her Majesty's Government to oppose the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has been providing consular support to Mr Asghar, and we will be raising our concerns in the strongest possible terms with the Pakistani government," she said.