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
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
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.