Freed Sudan Christian woman arrested at airport

June 24, 2014 2:52 pm
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Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag sits in her cell at a women's prison in Omdurman, on May 28, 2014 after giving birth to a baby girl/AFP FILE
Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag sits in her cell at a women’s prison in Omdurman, on May 28, 2014 after giving birth to a baby girl/AFP FILE
KHARTOUM, Sudan, June 24 – A Sudanese Christian woman was arrested Tuesday at Khartoum airport a day after a court annulled her death sentence for apostasy and released her from prison, a source familiar with the incident said.

“The National Security took her and Daniel,” said the source, referring to Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, 26, and her American husband Daniel Wani.

The status of their two young children, one a baby born in prison before Ishag’s release, was not immediately known.

The couple were detained, for reasons that are unclear, at about 1100 GMT as they tried to leave the country, said the source.

He could not give more details except to say they were taken to a facility of the powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).

“She has the right to leave the country,” the source said.

Ishag’s case sparked an outcry from Western governments and rights groups after a lower-court judge sentenced her to death on May 15.

READ Death row Sudanese Christian ‘apostate’ freed

Almost one million people appealed to save her life on the Change.org petition website.

Born to a Muslim father and an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian mother, Ishag was convicted under Islamic sharia law that has been in force in Sudan since 1983 and outlaws conversions on pain of death.

When Ishag was five, her father abandoned the family, and she was raised according to her mother’s faith.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Khartoum said she joined the Catholic church shortly before she married.

“She has never been a Muslim in her life,” a statement said.

– Fears for her life –

After the appeal courts quashed the earlier verdict, Ishag went into hiding, fearing for her life because of death threats, one of her lawyers said.

“She is in a safe place. I will not tell you where,” Mohanad Mustafa, told AFP on Monday night.

“The main reason is that we are concerned about her life.”

Mustafa said Wani had been reunited with his wife, newborn baby and the couple’s 20-month-old son who had been incarcerated with his mother.

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