Meriam Ibrahim: Sudanese woman freed from apostasy death sentence is re-arrested at airport... and then released again

Ms Ibrahim was freed from death row on Monday by the government after unprecedented international pressure

Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, the Christian woman sentenced to death and later freed after an international outcry, was briefly re-arrested while trying to leave the country for the US before being released again.

Eman Abdul-Rahim, her lawyer, said Ms Ibrahim was held with her two children and husband at Khartoum airport. The BBC said Ms Ibrahim, whose death sentence in May for renouncing Islam sparked outrage, was detained by about 40 security agents. Last night, it was reported that she had been freed.

Marie Harf, a spokeswoman for the US State Department, said the Sudanese government had informed American officials that Ms Ibrahim and her family were “temporarily detained” over issues relating to their travel documents. 

The family was held 24 hours after Ms Ibrahim’s husband, Daniel Wani, who has US citizenship, said they would go to America following his wife’s release.

The 27-year-old, whose father was Muslim but who was raised by her Christian mother, was convicted of apostasy for marrying a Christian. Sudan’s penal code forbids Muslims from converting to other religions, a crime punishable by death.

Ibrahim, who was pregnant at the time, was sentenced to flogging and to be hanged. She was arrested in February and gave birth to a daughter in prison with her legs chained not long after being sentenced. Her punishment drew international condemnation, with Amnesty International calling it “abhorrent” and the US State Department saying it was “deeply disturbed” by the sentence.

Video: Forced to give birth in jail

On Monday, however, Sudan’s Court of Cassation threw out Ibrahim’s death sentence and freed her after a presentation by her legal team. The Sudanese foreign ministry said it had come under “unprecedented” international pressure to free Ibrahim. The US Secretary of State John Kerry said: “Her case has rightly drawn the attention of the world and has been of deep concern to the United States government and many of our citizens and their representatives in Congress.”

Sources said the family had been taken to the headquarters of one of Sudan’s security agencies after being arrested at Khartoum airport. Sudan introduced Islamic Sharia law in the early 1980s under the rule of autocrat Jaafar Nimeiri. A number of Sudanese have been convicted of apostasy in recent years, but they all escaped execution by recanting their new faith, something Ibrahim refused to do.

AP

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An Amnesty International campaign has followed Ms Ibrahim's story since it emerged last month, while a Change.org online petition has received more than 980,000 signatures

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