News Middle East

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Sudanese woman released from death row re-arrested

Hannah Strange, Phillip Sherwell and Harriet Alexander

Published 25/06/2014 | 02:30

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Meriam Ibrahim breastfeeds her newborn baby girl, Maya, who she gave birth to in prison. AP
Meriam Ibrahim breastfeeds her newborn baby girl, Maya, who she gave birth to in prison. AP

Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman released from prison on Monday after worldwide protests at her death sentence for being a Christian, has been arrested at Khartoum airport – after less than 24 hours of freedom.

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The 27-year-old was arrested along with her American husband, Daniel Wani, and their two children, Martin, almost two, and Maya, two weeks old.

Their lawyer, Elshareef Ali Mohammed, was with them at the time, and said they were given no reason for their detention.

The arrest comes just hours after photos emerged of Ms Ibrahim smiling as she was reunited with her family.

A human rights group that has been working with Ms Ibrahim's lawyers said the family had been detained by National Security officials, apparently in relation to their travel plans.

"They are being held at the airport by National Security officials over documentation issues and the US Embassy is trying to work it out," Tina Ramirez, director of Hardwired, said.

Ms Ramirez believed that they were initially hoping to travel to South Sudan – now an independent country – as their paperwork to travel to the US is still being processed.

Mr Wani is an American citizen and supporters of the family, backed by the senators from his state of New Hampshire, have urged the US to grant a visa to Ms Ibrahim and citizenship to their two children.

A source suggested that Ms Ibrahim had the necessary travel documents to leave Sudan. "She has the right to leave the country," he said.

Ms Ibrahim was released from Omdurman women's prison on Monday after state media announced that the Supreme Court had annulled the sentence.

She had spent six months in a jail cell, sentenced to execution by hanging for abandoning Islam, despite her protestations that she was raised a Christian by her Ethiopian Orthodox mother after her Muslim father left.

Accompanied by her two children Ms Ibrahim was taken to a safe house in the Khartoum area on Monday. In Sudan, which imposes Sharia law, apostasy is a crime punishable by death – and earlier this month Ms Ibrahim's own brother called for her execution unless she "returned" to Islam.

The May 15 sentence also included 100 lashes for adultery related to her marriage to Mr Wani, a Christian. Sudan does not recognise marriages between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Some people saw the charges as the result of a family feud – and an attempt by Ms Ibrahim's family to gain control of her successful small businesses.

The sentencing caused outrage around the world, and led to an international campaign to secure her freedom.

Yesterday morning 'Al Sudani', a government-owned newspaper with good security sources, reported that the family was expected to leave Sudan within hours. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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