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Woman jailed for apostasy Meriam Ibrahim 'freed' after Sudanese court orders release

Case sparked international outrage after she was sentenced to death for converting from Islam to Christianity

Adam Withnall,Kunal Dutta
Tuesday 24 June 2014 17:19 BST
Meriam Ibrahim pictured in prison, where she gave birth to a daughter last month
Meriam Ibrahim pictured in prison, where she gave birth to a daughter last month (EPA)

A Sudanese woman who was sentenced to death for converting from Islam to Christianity has been released from prison, according to her lawyer.

According to the official state news agency in Sudan, a court has ordered 27-year-old Meriam Yahya Ibrahim be freed after her case sparked outrage around the world.

Ms Ibrahim's Christian American husband Daniel Wani was notified earlier this month that the appeals court in Sudan was deliberating the case, though the government had previously promised she would be released.

Sudan's SUNA news agency said today: "The appeal court ordered the release of Mariam Yahya and the cancellation of the (previous) court ruling."

Mr Wani had earlier described how Ms Ibrahim was forced to give birth in prison with her legs chained, after she refused to renounce her Christian faith during a four day 'grace period' when she was eight months pregnant.

Amnesty International said Ms Ibrahim has been shackled in heavy chains since being sentenced to death, a customary practice for prisoners facing execution.

If the verdict had not been overturned, she would have faced a punishment of 100 lashes and execution by hanging.

The release of Ms Ibrahim was an apparent surprise to her husband, with Mr Wani claiming that he found out about it through journalists.

Her lawyer, Mohaned Mostafa said that Ms Ibrahim had been sent “to an unknown house to stay at for her protection and security”.

“Her family has been threatened before and we are worried that someone might try to harm her,” he told Reuters. Another one of her lawyers, Eman Abdul-Rahim, told The Associated Press that Ms Ibrahim had left prison and was with her husband and two small children.

David Cameron said he was "absolutely appalled" when he heard about Ms Ibrahim's case, and had urged the Sudanese government to intervene ahead of her reported release today.

And if the reports are accurate, today's court decision comes as the culmination of weeks of campaigning and anger around the world.

The former Prime Minister Tony Blair called the case a "brutal and sickening distortion of faith".

The US State Department said it was "deeply disturbed" by Ms Ibrahim's sentence, and Hillary Clinton described it as "abhorrent".

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

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