KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — A Sudanese Christian woman whose death sentence for apostasy was overturned was ordered freed again on Thursday after being detained on accusations of forging travel documents.
Eman Abdul-Rahman, the lawyer for 27-year-old Meriam Ibrahim, told The Associated Press that she had been released from a police station after foreign diplomats pressed the government to free her. She was detained along with her husband and two small children, one born behind bars, at Khartoum’s airport on Tuesday while trying to leave the country with her family.
However, a lawyer at the police station in Khartoum, Mohannad Mustafa, said Ibrahim was still inside but would be released after completing paperwork and posting bail.
The U.S. State Department said it was a “very fluid situation” and it couldn’t confirm either report.
“Things are happening every minute here. Before I came out it was our understanding that she was still at the police station which where she was being held this morning DC time,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters in Washington. “We are in communication with the Sudanese foreign ministry to ensure that she and her family will be free to travel as quickly as possible. She had been detained while issues related to her travel and identification documents were sorted out. From our perspective, Miriam has all of the documents she needs to travel to and enter the United States. It is up to the government of Sudan to allow her to exit the country.”
Ibrahim, whose father was Muslim but who was raised by her Christian mother, was convicted of apostasy for marrying a Christian man from southern Sudan in a church ceremony in 2011. As in many Muslim nations, Muslim women in Sudan are prohibited from marrying non-Muslims, though Muslim men can marry outside their faith. By law, children must follow their father’s religion.
Sudan’s penal code forbids Muslims from converting to other religions, a crime punishable by death.
The sentence drew international condemnation, with Amnesty International calling it “abhorrent.” The U.S. State Department said it was “deeply disturbed” by the sentence and called on the Sudanese government to respect religious freedoms.
On Monday, Sudan’s Court of Cassation threw out Ibrahim’s death sentence and freed her after a presentation by her legal team.