Sudan death row woman Meriam Ibrahim freed again

Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, a 27-year-old Sudanese woman sentenced to hang for apostasy

Meriam Ibrahim gave birth to a baby daughter in prison

A Sudanese woman freed from death row on Monday has been released again after being briefly detained with her family at Khartoum airport.

Meriam Ibrahim was sentenced in May to hang for renouncing Islam, sparking widespread outrage at home and abroad.

About 40 security agents detained Mrs Ibrahim – along with her husband, Daniel Wani and two children – at the airport, the sources said.

But Sudan has told the US that she and her family have now been released.

“They were temporarily detained for several hours over questions related to their documents,” Marie Harf, a spokeswoman for the US state department, told journalists.

Sudan’s government had assured the US that Mrs Ibrahim and her family were safe, Ms Harf added.

She said the US is working with Sudan to ensure their safe passage out of the country.

Meriam Ibrahim with her husband (L), children and legal team after her release in Khartoum on 23 June 2014
Meriam Ibrahim with her husband Daniel Wani (L), children and legal team after her release in Khartoum

Earlier, a top Sudanese official told the BBC that although Mrs Ibrahim is Sudanese, she was using emergency South Sudanese papers with a US visa.

She would be asked to get a passport and exit visa on her release, Abdullahi Alzareg from the ministry of foreign affairs said.

Mrs Ibrahim’s husband is a Christian from what is now South Sudan and has US nationality.

One of Mrs Ibrahim’s lawyers, el-Shareef Ali, told the BBC that her legal team had been denied access to her.

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Analysis: James Copnall, former BBC Sudan correspondent

The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) is an extremely powerful body, which frequently intervenes in Sudanese politics.

It is a key part of the informal coalition – also comprising the military, Islamists and pragmatists – which rules Sudan.

The different components are constantly jockeying for a better position.

In recent times, NISS has been flexing its muscles.

It is very possible that NISS did not like the decision to release Meriam Ibrahim, and re-arresting her and her family was a way of making this point to the rest of the Sudanese government.

However, security is not a homogenous entity either.

It is also conceivable that one part of NISS accepted Mrs Ibrahim’s release, while another section was not happy with it.

Mrs Ibrahim’s release and re-arrest simply underline the fact that there are many decision-makers in Sudanese politics, and they do not always agree with each other.

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She was released from prison on Monday after an appeal court annulled the death sentence imposed on her.

She was initially arrested in February, and gave birth to a daughter in prison not long after being sentenced.

Before she was detained on Tuesday, Western countries had welcomed the decision to rescind the death penalty.

Born to a Muslim father, Mrs Ibrahim, 27, married Mr Wani in 2011.

Sudan has a majority Muslim population, and Islamic law has been in force there since the 1980s.

Even though Mrs Ibrahim was brought up as an Orthodox Christian, the authorities considered her to be a Muslim because that is the religion of her father.

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