Asia Bibi released: Pakistani Christian woman acquitted for blasphemy freed from jail

Lawyer says Asia Bibi is on plane after release from prison but 'nobody knows where she will land'

Tom Barnes@thomas_barnes
Wednesday 07 November 2018 20:36
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Protests across Pakistan after acquittal of Asia Bibi blasphemy trial

A Christian woman who spent eight years on death row in Pakistan before being acquitted of blasphemy has been released from prison, her lawyer has said.

Asia Bibi reportedly walked free from the Mutlan prison where she has been held for the best part of a decade after authorities received documents pertaining to her release, her legal representatives told Agence France-Presse.

“I have been told that she is on a plane but nobody knows where she will land,” her lawyer Saif-Ul-Malook said in a message sent to the press agency.

Ms Bibi had remained behind bars despite being acquitted of blasphemy charges by Pakistan’s supreme court last week, but was taken from detention facility where she had been held and flown to Islamabad on Wednesday evening.

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Her release had been put on hold on Friday after authorities held talks with radical Islamists, who objected to her sentenced being overturned and want to see her publicly hanged.

Authorities now say she may not leave the country because a petition for a review of the court's ruling was filed by a radical Islamist lawyer requesting the acquittal be reversed. Pakistani courts usually take years to decide such cases.

Ms Bibi was arrested in 2009 on charges of insulting Islam's prophet, Muhammad, before she was later sentenced to death in 2010.

Her family has always maintained her innocence and have repeatedly insisted she never insulted the prophet.

Blasphemy against Islam is punishable by death in Pakistan.

The decision by the supreme court to overturn Ms Bibi’s conviction and organise her release triggered protests across the south Asian nation.

Security officials had initially said the decision to remove her from prison had been taken in a bid to ensure her safety.

Authorities last month said they arrested two inmates for allegedly conspiring to strangle Ms Bibi and have since deployed additional police and troops to the facility in Punjab state, where he had been imprisoned.

Additional reporting by AP

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