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Meriam Ibrahim reported safe again after rollercoaster week

27 June 2014

Freed: Meriam Ibrahim with her husband, Daniel Wani

Freed: Meriam Ibrahim with her husband, Daniel Wani

THERE were reliable reports on Thursday that Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian sentenced to death for apostasy, was free once more, after a week of confusion.        

She was originally released on Monday, after an appeal court ruling that the original charge of converting from Islam, a capital offence under Sudanese law, was not applicable, since she had been brought up a Christian.

Then, on Tuesday, she was re-arrested at Khartoum airport, accused of trying to leave the country on invalid papers. She was detained for 24 hours. Then on Thursday reports came in that she has been released once more, and was safely inside the US embassy, awaiting permission to fly to the United States with her husband, who has US citizenship.

Mrs Ibrahim, 27, was sentenced to death by hanging last month for allegedly renouncing Islam (News, 16 May). She has insisted that she was raised a Christian, and so could not have abandoned Islam. She was also sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery, since her marriage to a Christian could not legally have taken place.

After a huge international outcry, the appeal court quashed her sentence. But, before she could leave Sudan, agents from the National Intelligence and Security Service detained her again on Tuesday. 


One member of Mrs Ibrahim's legal team, Mohamed Mostafa, told Reuters that the family had not intended to return to their Khartoum home because of threats made to their safety.

However, on Wednesday after her arrest at the airport, the BBC learnt that she had been accused of forging travel documents and detained at a police station. Her emergency documentation was issued by South Sudan, where Mr Wani is from.

The South Sudanese embassy in Khartoum has insisted that the documents are legitimate. But Abdullahi Alzareg, an official from Sudan's ministry of foreign affairs, told the BBC that as Mrs Ibrahim was a Sudanese citizen, and she could not use another nation's documents while travelling abroad.

She has now been released from custody but has been told not to leave Sudan. Speaking to the BBC after her latest release, she said: "I would like to thank those who stood beside me." 

She said that she had not yet made any plans for the future: "I will leave it to God. I didn't even have a chance to see my family after I got out of prison."

She has, however, been charged with forgery and providing false information regarding the South Sudanese travel documents.

Mrs Ibrahim, who was pregnant when convicted last month, was forced to give birth in Omdurman's women's prison while in chains (News, 30 May). She also has an 18-month-old son, Martin.

Apostasy has been illegal in Sudan since the introduction of sharia law in the 1980s, but freedom of religion is enshrined in Sudan's 2005 constitution.

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