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Meriam Ibrahim Update: Sudanese Death Row Christian Woman 'to be Freed in a Few Days'

( [email protected] ) May 31, 2014 07:06 PM EDT
Sudan authorities will free a Christian woman who was sentenced to death for committing apostasy, abandoning the Islamic faith for Christianity, a foreign ministry official says.
Ibrahim, 27, is currently in prison for apostasy. (AP)

[Update June 2, 2014: Sudan Retracts Statement to Free Meriam Ibrahim, Christian Woman Sentenced to Death for Apostasy

Sudan authorities will free a Christian woman who was sentenced to death for committing apostasy, abandoning the Islamic faith for Christianity, a foreign ministry official says.

Meriam Ibrahim, who gave birth to a daughter in custody earlier this week, will be freed in a few days, the official told BBC.

Abdullahi Alzareg, an under-secretary at the foreign ministry, said Sudan guaranteed religious freedom and was committed to protecting the woman.

Sudan has been facing international condemnation over the death sentence.

Ibrahim, 27, was brought up as an Orthodox Christian, but a Sudanese judge ruled earlier this month that she should be regarded as Muslim because that had been her father's faith.

She was ordered to recant her Christian faith or faced death by hanging for apostasy, but she refused and was imprisoned along with her son.

The court said Ibrahim would be allowed to breast-feed her baby, Maya, for two years before the sentence was carried out.

On Wednesday, she gave birth to a daughter with her legs chained at a prison clinic in Omdurman, near Khartoum. It is the second child from her marriage in 2011 to Daniel Wani, a US citizen.

The court had earlier rejected her Christian marriage and sentenced her to 100 lashes for adultery with her husband, Wani, who fled to the United States as a child to escape the civil war in southern Sudan, but later returned. Their union was not considered valid under Islamic law.

Her imprisonment and death sentence shocked the international community, sparking rallies to sign petition for the release of "pregnant Sudanese Christian woman." Millions of people have signed online petitions, and one such effort on Change.org has garnered more than 630,000 signatures as of Friday.

"Through the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, the White House and the State Department, we have communicated our strong concern at high levels of the Sudanese government about this case," State Department spokeswoman Nicole Thompson wrote FoxNews.com in an email. "We have heard from many, many Americans that they are deeply alarmed by [Ibrahim's] plight. We have conveyed these views to the Government of Sudan."

Amnesty International officials have characterized the punishment doled out by a judge to be a "flagrant breach" of international human rights law. It's also a violation of Sudan's own Constitution, according to the State Department.