UPDATE: Meriam Ibrahim and her family are safe inside the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, her lawyer told reporters this morning.
After police released the Christian family yesterday, following their arrest at the airport on suspicion of forging travel documents, they fled to the embassy for protection. Ibrahim’s family has threatened to carry out the death sentence a judge overturned on Monday. A court had sentenced Ibrahim to hang for refusing to recant her faith.
U.S. officials told the Associated Press they are working to get the family out of the country. Ibrahim’s husband, Daniel Wani, is a naturalized U.S. citizen.
UPDATE (9 a.m. EDT, June 26): Meriam Ibrahim, her husband, and their two children have been freed again after being re-arrested on Tuesday while trying to leave the country. Ibrahim's lawyer, Eman Abdul-Rahman, said this morning the family was detained at Khartoum's airport over accusations they had forged their travel documents. Daniel Wani, Ibrahim's husband, said on Monday the family planned to leave for the United States as soon as possible.
Abdul-Rahman said foreign diplomats pressured Sudan's government to release Ibrahim and Wani, who is a U.S. citizen.
UPDATE (3 p.m. EDT, June 24): Sudanese officials say Meriam Ibrahim and her family have been detained due to issues with their travel documents, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters this afternoon. The detention is only temporary, Sudanese officials assured their U.S. counterparts, adding that the family is safe and not under arrest.
Harf said the State Department is working to get the family out of the country, the most active role the United States has so far taken in the case.
UPDATE (10 a.m. EDT, June 24): Meriam Ibrahim, her husband, and their two children have been detained by Sudanese security forces while trying to leave the country, her lawyer said early Tuesday.
Ibrahim, who was freed from prison on Monday, had been sentenced to die for refusing to recant her Christian faith. A judge commuted her sentence after an international outcry. Her lawyer, Eman Abdul-Rahim, said the family was trying to get on a plane bound for the United States when they were detained at the international airport in Khartoum. Daniel Wani, Ibrahim’s husband, is a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Security officials did not respond to requests by the Associated Press for comment.
UPDATE (3 p.m. EDT, June 23): WORLD has learned Meriam Ibrahim’s release came after Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Frank Wolf (R-Va.), Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), and Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) met on Friday with Maowia Khalid, the Sudanese ambassador to the United States.
Smith, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa, had scheduled a hearing on Ibrahim’s case for Tuesday, but he agreed to postpone the proceeding based on assurances he received at the meeting.
Smith called Ibrahim’s release a “huge first step,” but said he would reserve the right to convene a hearing until Ibrahim and her family are “on a plane and heading to the United States.”
Congress has the power to exert some pressure on Sudan, which has benefitted from billions in U.S. humanitarian aid during the last 25 years.
UPDATE (11 a.m. EDT, June 23): According to the BBC, Meriam Ibrahim's lawyers confirmed she has been freed from jail. But her life may still be in jeopardy.
Ibrahim's family members, who filed the complaint against her in the first place, have threatened to carry out the death sentence commuted by the court this morning.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports Ibrahim's lawyers also have received death threats and extremist groups attempted to pressure the court to carry out her sentence.
OUR EARLIER REPORT (10:30 a.m EDT, June 23): Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian woman sentenced to death for refusing to recant her faith, will soon be set free, according to reports from Sudan’s official news agency.
SUNA said the Court of Cassation reversed Ibrahim’s death sentence this morning and ordered her released.
Ibrahim’s Christian mother raised her alone after her father, a Muslim, abandoned the family. But under Sudanese law, children take on their father’s religion, and Muslims are forbidden from marrying Christians. Ibrahim's husband, Daniel Wani, is a South Sudanese Christian and a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Earlier this year, Ibrahim’s half-brother and half-sister filed a complaint against her for apostasy. She was eight months pregnant when she was arrested. Her lawyers claimed her siblings hoped to take over her successful business, a general store in a shopping mall, after her execution. When Ibrahim refused to renounce her faith during her final hearing on May 15, the judge sentenced her to death and 100 lashes for “adultery.”
Ibrahim, 27, gave birth to a baby girl last month in prison. Her 18-month-old son also is in jail with her. Authorities planned to carry out her sentence of lashes as soon as she recovered from the birth. The judge gave her two years to wean the child before she would face execution.
Ibrahim’s plight stirred outrage in the United States, although U.S. officials were hesitant to acknowledge her children’s rights as U.S. citizens. Supporters held a rally for Ibrahim outside the White House on June 12, a week after Sudan’s foreign minister said during a trip to Germany that he expected her to be released. Speakers at the conservative Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference this weekend held Ibrahim up as an example of Christian persecution around the world.