FIRST Minister Humza Yousaf has written to Rishi Sunak urging him to ask the Indian government to release a Scottish Sikh blogger who has been in jail there for more than five years.

Yousaf said that Jagtar Singh Johal has been wrongfully imprisoned and urged Rishi Sunak to take a “direct approach” to make progress in the case.

Jagtar, also known as Jaggi, was in Punjab in Northern India in 2017 for his wedding when his family say he was arrested and bundled into an unmarked car. 

He claims to have been tortured while in custody - including with electric shocks - and insists his detention on terrorism charges is without merit.

A UN group has said there is no legal basis for his continued detention. 

He faces the prospect of execution if he is found guilty - although could wait as long as 40 years to see a court because of backlogs in the Indian criminal justice system. 

Yousaf met Gurpreet Singh Johal, the brother of Jagtar Singh Johal, earlier this month and vowed to keep lobbying for his release

In his letter to Sunak, the First Minister said: “Jagtar has now been imprisoned in India for over 2,000 days.

“In May 2022, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Jagtar Singh Johal had been arbitrarily detained and his detention breached international human rights law.

“The clear recommendation of the report was that Jagtar Singh Johal should be immediately released. Yet Jagtar remains in prison.

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“I am therefore writing to ask that you make a direct approach to the Government of India to ask for Jagtar’s immediate release in line with the UN Working Group’s unequivocal recommendation.

“This would give the family the reassurance of knowing that the UK Government is prioritising the protection of a citizen who has been wrongfully imprisoned.”

Gurpreet Singh Johal has previously said that the Scottish Government's "unequivocal" support for his brother's release shames the UK Government, who have so far failed to demand Jaggi's freedom. 

He described a meeting with Foreign Secretary James Cleverley as "painful". 

The UK Government has been asked for comment.