Sudanese Christian Meriam Yahya Ibrahim, who was sentenced to death for refusing to renounce her faith, was freed on June 23.
Ibrahim and her children — 2-year-old Martin and a daughter who was born in captivity last month — were secreted away to a safe house after their release. Her life was still in danger: her own family member had threatened to kill her if the government didn’t.
Ibrahim and her family were prepared to board a plane to the U.S. early Tuesday when about 40 armed “thugs” detained her at the airport. The thugs claimed Ibrahim’s travel papers weren’t in order.
Ibrahim’s re-arrest set off a new round of threats from the U.S. government to impose sanctions on the impoverished nation.
U.S. Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ) issued a statement upon learning of her re-arrest.
“I am appalled by the continued threats against Meriam, her husband, their two young children, and her lawyers,” Franks said. “We must hold Sudanese authorities accountable for this precious family’s safety.”
Today, while the world was still reacting with joy and surprise to the news of her release from prison, she and her husband, Daniel Wani, along with toddler son, Martin, and infant daughter, Maya, were re-arrested (some reports say “detained”) at the Khartoum airport while trying to leave the country.
This is normal procedure for the Islamic Republic of Sudan. Deceptions, denials, and delays have kept the regime in business for decades. In this case, since Meriam was first arrested in September of 2013, all three of these tactics have been used against her, husband Daniel– a South Sudanese Christian who is an American citizen– and their children.
Meriam was also sentenced to receive 100 lashes for adultery for her relationship with Daniel. Under Shariah, their marriage was not recognized because a Muslim woman cannot marry a Christian man.
The Shariah court judge postponed Meriam’s death sentence for two years, to give her time to breastfeed baby Maya. No such delay was given for the flogging sentence, though. She could have been subjected to the lashes at any day now, if the appeal had not been successful.
Less than an hour after Franks’ statement was published, reports saying that Meriam had been released again began to surface. It appeared that the family was detained (by the 40 thugs) over problems with their travel documents. According to Reuters, one lawyer said that Meriam had been taken to the police station for questioning over providing false information. A Sudanese official told the BBC that although Meriam was Sudanese, she had emergency South Sudanese travel papers and a U.S. visa.
The latest BBC news, at approximately 5:20 PM ET, quoted State Department representative Marie Harf who said that the Sudan government had assured the U.S. that the family was safe. The BBC reported, “The US says it is working with Sudan to ensure a woman freed from death row can leave the country, amid confusion over whether she is still being held.”
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