Sudan Frees Woman Sentenced to Death for Apostasy From Jail

A Sudanese appeal court freed Meriam Yehia Ibrahim and canceled the death sentence she received after refusing to recant her Christian faith, her lawyer said.

Ibrahim, 27, was released from jail today and is now with her husband, Daniel Wani, one of her lawyers, Elshareef Ali, said by phone from the capital, Khartoum.

Ibrahim was sentenced to death by hanging by a Sudanese court last month in a case that sparked condemnation from governments including the U.S. and U.K. as well as rights groups such as Amnesty International. Sudan’s government said it wouldn’t interfere in the decisions of the judiciary.

“This is a victory the Sudanese constitution and for freedom of faith in Sudan,” Ali said. “The court canceled all the decisions taken against her, including annulling the marriage and the adultery conviction. She is now free to go anywhere.”

Ibrahim on May 27 gave birth to a girl whom she was caring for in prison along with her 20-month-old son. Under Sudanese law, a pregnant woman can’t be executed until she gives birth and raises the child for two years, according to Amnesty.

Ibrahim’s legal team filed an appeal on May 22, saying the verdict contradicts the country’s 2005 constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion as well as international rights agreements to which Sudan is a signatory.

Her husband Wani said she was raised as Christian by her Ethiopian mother after her Sudanese Muslim father left when she was six years old.

She was arrested in August after men who said they were from her father’s side of the family reportedly accused her of adultery because of her marriage to a Christian man, Amnesty said.

“Mariam is now a safe place away from home for fear of retaliation by those who claim to be her brothers,” Ali said.

An apostasy charge was added when she said she was never a Muslim, contradicting the court which considered her as having the same faith as her father. Ibrahim’s marriage was annulled and she was sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery in accordance with Sudan’s interpretation of Islamic law, which doesn’t permit unions between Muslim women and non-Muslim men.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ahmed Feteha in Khartoum at afeteha@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Paul Richardson at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net Karl Maier, Emily Bowers

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