Sudan Woman Freed After Apostasy Case Re-Arrested at Airport

Meriam Yehia Ibrahim and Family
This image from one of Meriam Yehia Ibrahim's lawyers, Elshareef Ali, shows Meriam, seated at center, with her husband, seated at left, and family, on June 23, 2014. Source: Elshareef Ali via Bloomberg

A Sudanese woman was re-arrested a day after a local court overturned her death sentence for apostasy and was charged with presenting forged travel documents and giving false information, her lawyer said.

Members of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service detained Meriam Yehia Ibrahim, 27, today with her husband, Daniel Wani, and two children at the airport in the capital, Khartoum, as she tried to board a flight to leave the country, Thabit al-Zubair Soliman, one of her lawyers, said by phone. Security agents filed the charges against Ibrahim after questioning the couple for about six hours, he said.

Ibrahim and Wani are currently at a Khartoum police station and she will probably released on bail later today, Soliman said. Ibrahim was travelling on a travel document issued by the South Sudanese Embassy in Khartoum, he said. South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011.

“The reason for these charges is to find a legal reason to keep Meriam inside Sudan,” Soliman said. “The NISS do not have any proof that these documents are forged.”

Sudanese Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman said by phone earlier that he had no details about the incident.

Ibrahim was released yesterday when an appeals court canceled the death sentence she received in May after refusing to recant her Christian faith in favor of Islam. The case sparked condemnation from governments including the U.S. and U.K. as well as rights groups such as Amnesty International.

Adultery Charge

Ibrahim 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 Wani, a Christian. An apostasy charge was added when she said she followed the Christian faith of her Ethiopian mother and was never a Muslim, contradicting the court which considered her to be sharing her Sudanese father’s religion.

Sudan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement after Ibrahim’s release yesterday that the government had refused to interfere in the work of the judiciary after coming under “unprecedented pressure” by foreign governments and international organizations to do so.

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