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US says it received assurance of safe passage for Sudanese Christian woman

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June 24, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The United States on Tuesday disputed reports that a Sudanese Christian woman sentenced to death for allegedly recanting her Islamic faith has been re-arrested with her family at the airport as she was trying to fly out and said that Khartoum assured her that she will be allowed safe passage.

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Meriam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag, pictured with her husband Daniel Wani on their wedding day

“[T]he State Department has been informed by the Sudanese Government that the family was temporarily detained at the airport for several hours by the government for questioning over issues related to their travel and I think travel documents. They have not been arrested,” US State department deputy speaker Marie Harf told reporters today.

“The government has assured us of their safety. The Embassy has been and will remain highly involved in working with the family and the government. We are engaging directly with Sudanese officials to secure their safe and swift departure from Sudan, and of course, we’ll provide more information as we get it,” she added.

Earlier today Mrs. Ibrahim was reportedly taken into custody by National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) officers at Khartoum airport on Tuesday along with her husband and two children.

She was on her way to a neighbouring country en-route to the US but was informed by NISS at the airport that she was banned from travelling abroad in accordance with a public ban letter, Sudan Tribune was told.

A US embassy diplomat who was escorting Ibrahim failed to convince authorities to allow her to leave the country.

The head of Ibrahim’s defence team, Eman Hassan, stressed that NISS apprehended her client at the airport, saying she is not aware of the real reason behind her detention.

She denied that NISS detained Ibrahim and banned her from travelling abroad due to her apostasy case, underscoring that a travel ban must be issued by a court order or an order from a legal authority which does not apply to Ibrahim.

The 27-year old woman was sentenced to death last month for renouncing Islam and but was released on Monday after what the government said was "unprecedented" international pressure. An appeals court found Ibrahim not guilty on two charges of apostasy and adultery and overturned the lower tribunal’s verdict.

Her sentence has sparked international outrage, with some US senators calling on Kerry to personally intervene in the case and offer her asylum.

The NISS page on Facebook said that Ibrahim was arrested by airport immigration officers after presenting temporary travel documents issued by South Sudan embassy in Khartoum and that had a US visa stamp on it.

“This was viewed by Sudanese authorities as a criminal violation and a disregard upon which the foreign ministry summoned the US and South Sudanese envoys”.

“On the other hand a senior official Sudanese Foreign Ministry official explained that temporary travel documents are granted by states to their citizens after ensuring that the citizen has no criminal or security problem and has the seal of the interior [ministry] in the domicile of the citizen” the NISS Facebook post said.

“It is also valid only for one use, and the person would be travelling to his homeland only, but in the case of citizen Abrar [Ibrahim’s Muslim name] the document was issued by the Embassy of the state of South Sudan though she is not southerner and heading to America and it is not her homeland”.

Ibrahim’s husband is a national of South Sudan but it is not clear if immigration laws in the world’s newest country would confer citizenship upon her.

Meanwhile, legal experts and officials at Sudan’s National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) expressed to Sudan Tribune fears from the reaction of the accused woman’s family towards the court decision to free her.

According to CNN, al-Samani al-Hadi, who claims to be Ibrahim’s brother spoke Tuesday of seeking retribution, saying that Christians had tarnished his Islamic family’s honour through the case.

"The family is unconvinced by the court’s decision. We were not informed by the court that she was to be released; this came as a surprise to us," Al-Hadi said. "The law has failed to uphold our rights.

"This is now an issue of honour. The Christians have tarnished our honour, and we will know how to avenge it."

The European Union (EU) ambassador to Sudan, Tomas Ulicny, who met on Tuesday with presidential assistant, Ibrahim Ghandour, praised the decision to release Ibrahim, saying it was a victory for human rights and religious freedom advocates in Sudan and worldwide.

He said in press statements following the meeting that the EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso welcomed the court decision, saying the EU calls upon Sudan to adhere to the constitution and international treaties.

Ulicny added the EU calls upon Sudanese government and other nations to cancel any legal provisions which punish individuals for changing their religion or beliefs, noting that governments must be committed to protect rights and safety of those individuals besides promoting coexistence and religious tolerance.

(ST)

Related story

Sudanese Christian woman rearrested while attempting to leave country

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  • 25 June 07:38, by Jalaby

    This lady is the only thing that concerns America? America should stop using double standards in its foreign policy,they should condemn what happened to Muslims in CAR and punish those Christians extremists who slayed Muslims like cows,America should stop supporting this barbaric regime in Egypt which arrests everyone who opposes the coup and asks for justice & freedom

    repondre message

    • 25 June 07:46, by Jalaby
      • 25 June 07:50, by Jalaby

        You know, I always tell you the truth and very honest with you guys,right?
        One of the "hidden" reason behind why Junobean voted to separate from north because Arab/Jalaba don’t marry their ladies to Junobean!
        Marrying Arab/Jalaba lady always remains great hope & dream for Junobean!! Please be honest to yourself and don’t deny this clear fact!!

        repondre message

    • 25 June 11:52, by South South

      Jalaby,

      We all know you in this discussion board of being Mr. Lair. You never tell the truth here. About South Sudanese wanting to marry Fake Arab girls as an issue of separation of South Sudan. You can see how you are a big lair. In Khartoum we were sleeping with fake Arab girls. After separation of South Sudan, fake Arab girls poured to Juba. CAR, Christians are the victims.

      repondre message

  • 25 June 08:34, by hamil

    This woman is not a terrorist or CIA agent why was she being taken for questioning? These Sudanese are really backward your false teachings in your Islamic laws are making you think like animals. The woman does not want to be a Muslim and that is her choice not the choice of the Sudanese people or government let them leave mariam alone to join her husband in a civilzed country free of terrorism

    repondre message

    • 25 June 09:10, by Jalaby

      Hamil
      How about your nasty country (south)?is it civilized and free of terrorism?
      Now this lady case has nothing to do with religion, the judiciary cancelled her case but it has to do with her parents and family,they want to know what happened to her?why she disappeared and changed her name & married secretly?
      It’s about culture & tradition!

      repondre message

      • 25 June 15:53, by hamil

        @Jalaby

        I want to tell you that South Sudan has moved millions when it comes to religious freedom we have thousands of Muslims who are not being tormented the way Sudan is treating christians. You people think the Quaran will take you to heaven? You are being misguided by the teachings of that book and your stupid sharia laws you Muslims think you are God’s chosen people you are bunch of murderer

        repondre message

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