Sudanese Christian woman freed from death row temporarily detained

A Sudanese Christian woman freed from death row is re-arrested as she seeks to leave the country

A  Christian woman in Sudan freed from death row Monday was temporarily detained a day later after trying to leave the country with her family, according to reports from Khartoum, Sudan.

Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, 27, sentenced to hang last month for apostasy, was released Tuesday after being held for several hours by Sudan's intelligence agency with no access to her lawyers.

She had been released from jail Monday after her capital conviction was overturned by Khartoum’s appeals court. But Ibrahim, her husband and two children were detained by security at the Khartoum airport, where they were seeking to board a plane, Reuters reported, citing a security official. The reasons for her rearrest were not immediately clear.

Ibrahim’s legal team said Tuesday that she had valid travel documents and the right to leave the country. Her lawyers had expressed fear for her safety Monday after her release from prison, concerned that someone might try to harm her.

Ibrahim was sentenced for adultery after her marriage to Daniel Wani, an American Christian from South Sudan, was declared invalid. She recently gave birth to her second child in Omdurman’s women’s prison; she had been jailed in February, along with her first child, Martin.

Ibrahim was charged after a family member reported her to authorities for having married a non-Muslim. Ibrahim insisted she had been raised a Christian by her Ethiopian Christian mother and had never been a Muslim.

Her father, a Muslim, abandoned the family when Ibrahim was 6 years old and played no role in her upbringing, she said.

The conviction and sentence were condemned by human rights groups, including Amnesty International, and by the United States, Britain and other Western governments, with calls for Sudan to guarantee freedom of religion.

In Sudan, abandoning Islam to convert to Christianity or another faith is an offense punishable by death under the country’s 1991 penal code. The court gave Ibrahim a chance to renounce her Christianity in order to avoid the death sentence, but she refused to do so.

The court ruled that she would be allowed to care for her second baby for two years, then Ibrahim would be hanged.

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2:16 p.m. on June 24: Updated to reflect the release of Ibrahim after she detained Tuesday.

This story was originally posted at 8:01 a.m.


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