A SCOTS MP reached out to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani yesterday – as “one Glaswegian to another”.

David Linden, who represents Glasgow East, made a personal plea to the leader in a Westminster Hall debate on human rights in Iran.

The session took in the cases of British citizens held in Iranian custody, including mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and grandfather Kamal Foroughi.

Both were arrested over allegations of involvement in actions against the government there, but questions remain over the exact nature of the charges on which they were imprisoned.

It also covered the use of torture, amputations and the death penalty by authorities who are understood to have executed more than 530 people last year, according to Foreign Office estimates.

Linden, leading the debate for the SNP, highlighted the country’s restrictions on women’s rights, which includes dress-code rules, a lack of protection against domestic violence and a legal marriage age of just 13.

In a striking speech, he went on: “There was quite a lot of initial excitement when Hassan Rouhani was elected as president of Iran in 2013, not just because he was seen as a moderate but because he was an honorary Glaswegian, having studied in my home city at Glasgow Caledonian University.

“During his time in Glasgow, he completed the thesis for his PhD on the flexibility of Shariah with reference to the Iranian experience.

“His thesis, which is still available at the library today, can be taken out and read.

“Anyone who takes the opportunity to read President Rouhani’s thesis will be struck by the first line in the abstract, which states that ‘no laws in Islam are immutable’.

“His thesis demonstrates that a younger Rouhani was willing to embrace a more liberal and moderate approach to society.

“So, from one Glaswegian to another, my message to President Rouhani is this – embrace that moderate tone and drastically improve human rights for your people.”

Labour’s Fabian Hamilton, who represents Leeds North East, also highlighted Rouhani’s Scottish connection, saying: “In spite of the thesis that he wrote while at university in Glasgow, we have seen no significant human rights improvements in Iran since he arrived. In many respects, the situation has become a lot worse.

“We know – it has been pointed out again today – that the revolutionary guard acts independently of the so-called ‘moderate’ president Rouhani. The revolutionary guard and similarly conservative state agents regularly use the state apparatus to undermine reformist opponents and anyone who is seen as threatening to the interests of those agents.”

LibDem international trade spokesman Tom Brake urged action on the cases of Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Foroughi, saying many MPs “are concerned about whether there is a risk, in a bid to secure trade deals – either between UK companies and Iranian counterparts, or the UK as a whole and other countries – of human rights falling off the agenda”.

The comment follows concern over Westminster’s failure to condemn Spanish state violence against voters in Catalonia and its refusal to end arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other countries engaged in conflict in Yemen.

Alistair Burt, Minister of State for the Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, insisted this was not the case.

He said: “The government have repeatedly said, and I can say again here, that human rights considerations are not being, and will not be, sacrificed for trade deals.

“That is not the government’s intention. We have repeatedly said so.”