Meriam Ibrahim: Woman who was freed after apostasy death sentence still detained at airport ‘over forged travel documents’

Family's lawyer says they are expected to be held for 24 hours over 'criminal violation' with visa

Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman whose death sentence for converting to Christianity was overturned on Monday, is now being questioned by police over the alleged use of forged travel documents.

The mother of two was released this week after what Sudan’s government described as unprecedented international pressure, and her American husband said they looked forward to starting a new life in the US.

But the diplomatic row over Ms Ibrahim’s case has only escalated after she was detained again at Khartoum airport yesterday.

In a statement issued on its Facebook page, Sudan’s security service said that passport police had “arrested” Mr Ibrahim after she presented “emergency travel documents issued by the South Sudanese embassy and carrying an American visa”.

“The Sudanese authorities considered this a criminal violation”, it said.

Read more: What is apostasy?
Meriam Ibrahim forced to give birth 'with her legs chained'
Husband appeals for support to reverse death sentence
Woman jailed for apostasy reunited with husband

Ms Ibrahim's lawyer, Mohaned Mostafa, said that she is expected to stay in police custody for 24 hours.

Speaking from Washington, a US State Department spokesperson said that it was “highly involved” in working with the family and the Sudanese government to resolve the matter, and that the latter had given it assurances regarding Ms Ibrahim’s safety.

Meriam Ibrahim with her husband Daniel Wani Meriam Ibrahim with her husband Daniel Wani The spokesperson said the US believed Ms Ibrahim and her family “have not been arrested”, but rather that they had been detained for several hours “for questioning over issues related to their travel”.

The Sudanese foreign ministry has summoned the US and South Sudanese ambassadors to discuss how Ms Ibrahim came to be issued with the travel documents, security officials said. Under Sudan's laws, forging a document is punishable by up to five years in prison.

It was not known where Ms Ibrahim, her husband Daniel Wani, their 18-month-old son Martin and baby daughter Maya – who was born in jail – were looking to fly, though reports suggested they were likely trying to get to the US via either Cairo or Juba in South Sudan.

In this file image from an undated video Meriam Ibrahim, sitting next to her 18-month-old son Martin, holds her newborn baby girl as an NGO visits her in a room at a prison in Khartoum In this file image from an undated video Meriam Ibrahim, sitting next to her 18-month-old son Martin, holds her newborn baby girl as an NGO visits her in a room at a prison in Khartoum Monday’s court decision in Ms Ibrahim’s favour came after an Amnesty International campaign supported by more than one million people, and lobbying at the highest level from the US and UK.

It was hailed by David Cameron as a reminder of “how crucial freedom of religion is around the world”.

But it also led to words of caution from US Congressman Chris Smith, who chairs its global human rights subcommittee. He said the release was only a “first step”, adding: “The second step is that Ms Ibrahim and her husband and their children be on a plane heading to the United States.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore