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Meriam Ibrahim Update: Christian Woman Re-Released after Airport Detention; Sudan Assures Her, Family's Safety

( [email protected] ) Jun 24, 2014 07:29 PM EDT
Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian mother who had been sentenced to death in Sudan, has been re-released, according to reports on Tuesday late afternoon.
Daniel Wani with his wife, Meriam Yeyha Ibrahim, who was sentenced to death in Sudan for refusing to renounce her Christian faith (Photo: GABRIEL WANI)

Meriam Ibrahim Update: Christian Sudanese Woman Charged with 'Fraud' After Re-Arrest at Sudan Airport 

Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian mother who had been sentenced to death in Sudan, has been re-released, according to reports on Tuesday late afternoon.

"They were temporarily detained for several hours over questions related to their [travel] documents," Marie Harf, a spokeswoman for the U.S. state department, said at a press briefing on June 24. "They have not been arrested. The government has assured us of their safety."

Harf said that the U.S. Embassy "has been and will remain highly involved in working with the family and the government," saying "we are engaging directly with Sudanese officials to secure their safe and swift departure from Sudan."

A Sudanese official earlier told the BBC that Ibrahim did not have the proper paperworks, and had been using South Sudanese papers to leave the country. She needed to obtain a passport and exit visa prior to her release.

According to the report's speculation, National Intelligence and Security Service - a key stakeholder in Sudanese politics - was unhappy with the release Ibrahim and that "re-arresting her and her family was a way of making this point to the rest of the Sudanese government."

"It is also conceivable that one part of NISS accepted Mrs Ibrahim's release, while another section was not happy with it. Mrs Ibrahim's release and re-arrest simply underline the fact that there are many decision-makers in Sudanese politics, and they do not always agree with each other," it added.

Miriam Ibrahim was sentenced to death in the Islamic nation on charges of apostasy and adultery for becoming a Christian and for marrying a Christian man. Because her father was a Muslim, Ibrahim was considered a Muslim in the eyes of the Sudanese government. Although she became a Christian at a young age, Ibrahim's relatives were disconcerted when she married a Christian man. They reported her to the authorities, who charged her with apostasy for abandoning the Islamic religion and with adultery for marrying Wani, who is not a Muslim.

Ibrahim was given until May 15 to renounce her Christian faith, but she refused - "I am a Christian ... and I will remain a Christian," she said during her trial. Pregnant with her second child on the way, Ibrahim was afterward sentenced to 100 lashings and to death. After an international outcry over her plight, the Sudanese government had agreed to release Ibrahim Monday.

A man who claims to be Ibrahim's brother is outraged that the Sudanese government had decided to let her go free. "The family is unconvinced by the court's decision. We were not informed by the court that she was to be released; this came as a surprise to us ... This is now an issue of honor. The Christians have tarnished our honor, and we will know how to avenge it," he says.