London: Uncomfortable with the attention they are receiving from fellow inmates, Pakistani cricketers Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif want to be transferred to a jail in their own country to serve their sentences for being involved in the spot-fixing scam.
According to a report, the cricketers, who were convicted of conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments, "have asked to be returned to their home country, to serve the remainder of their sentence."
Former Pakistan Test captain Butt and pacer Asif have "told their lawyers that they would prefer to be sent to a jail in Pakistan, because the attention they are receiving from fellow inmates is leading to fears for their safety. A High Court application is expected to be made within the next eight weeks."
The jailed cricketers were transferred from Wandsworth Prison in south London to Canterbury Prison in Kent this week.
Canterbury Prison holds foreign nationals convicted in Britain and inmates are generally deported back to their countries at the end of their sentences.
Butt and Asif feel if they are to be deported at the end of it, then they might as well serve their sentences in their own country.
A British Pakistani businessman Dalawar Chaudhry met Asif at the prison this week and said the jailed players are not too happy with the attention they are attracting.
"They are high-profile inmates who are worried about their safety. They only have each other in this country and are feeling quite vulnerable. Their families are very concerned for them," he said.
"Both Asif and Butt have said that if they are going to be deported at the end of their sentences, which looks very likely, then they should be allowed to leave Britain as soon as possible and finish their sentence in a Pakistani jail," he added.
Asif was jailed for one year and Butt for two-and-a-half years for their involvement in last year`s spot-fixing scandal.
A third Pakistani cricketer convicted in the scam, 19-year-old pacer Mohammad Amir, is serving his six-month sentence in a young offenders institute.
Lawyers representing Butt are appealing against the sentence handed out to him.
"He wants to be returned to Pakistan as soon as possible but we will also be appealing against the severity of his sentence. We believe that it was unduly harsh," said a source.
Choudhry, meanwhile, criticised Asif and Butt for seeking to back to Pakistan, saying the two might get VIP treatment in the jail there.
"I told Asif that going to a Pakistani jail to finish your sentence would look bad in Britain. Everybody knows that well known names in Pakistan are treated like VIPs in prison.”
"We are trying to rebuild the reputation of Pakistan in Britain following this scandal and if these two return there to a heroes` reception and live comfortably in jail, then what message does that send out about Pakistan`s attitude towards match fixing?" he asked.
Talking about their lives in prison, Choudhry said the presence of the duo has led to an increase in the attendance at Friday prayers.
"Everybody has wanted to meet them and the imams of Wandsworth and now Canterbury prisons have been amazed to see so many people at Friday prayers," he said.
"The attention the players are getting has made them more nervous however as they don`t know who to trust," he added.