Woman sentenced to death for allegedly abandoning the Muslim faith has been detained by security services, just a day after she was released from prison.
By Philip Sherwell, Hannah Strange, and Harriet Alexander / Telegraph.co.uk
Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman released from prison on Monday after worldwide protests at her death sentence for apostasy, has been arrested at Khartoum airport – after less than 24 hours of freedom.
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, told The Telegraph.
One of her lawyers later said they had been taken from the airport to an unknown destination.
The family were initially planning to fly to South Sudan – the birthplace of Mr Wani which is now an independent country – as their paperwork to travel to the US is still being processed, Ms Ramirez said.
Ms Ibrahim and her family were brought to the airport in a US vehicle accompanied by American diplomats after South Sudan issued emergency travel paperwork for them. But the security officials at the airport apparently found problems with the documents.
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.
Ms Ibrahim was released from Omdurman women’s prison on Monday afternoon 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 afternoon. 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.
The first photos released after her release show Ms Ibrahim, dressed in a vivid green traditional Sudanese outfit, cradling Maya on her lap.
Next to her, in his wheelchair, sits Mr Wani – an American-Sudanese citizen, who suffers from muscular dystrophy.
On Tuesday morning Al Sudani, a government-owned newspaper with good security sources, reported that the family was expected to leave Sudan within hours.