Voice of America (Washington, DC)

25 June 2014

Sudan Denies Re-Arresting Released Christian Woman

Photo: Gabriel Wani/Facebook
Wedding photo of Meriam Ibrahim and Daniel Wani.

Sudan's Minister of Information said his government did not re-arrest or detain Meriam Yahya Ibrahim, the Christian woman whose death sentence for apostasy was overturned by an appeals court Monday.

Ahmed Bilal said the government was protecting Ibrahim from her own family members, who had accused her of adultery for marrying a Christian.

Ibrahim's lawyers said she and her husband were arrested at the airport Tuesday by Sudanese security as they tried to board a plane.

Bilal said it's possible the couple might have had some issues with their travel documents, but were never arrested.

"From the point of view of government, we have nothing against her. She can travel anytime. Maybe her travelling documents were not complete, or something like that. But, she's not arrested," he said.

US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters Tuesday the Sudanese government had informed officials at the US embassy in Khartoum that Ibrahim and her family were "temporarily detained" over issues relating to their travel documents.

Bilal also refuted earlier reports that Ibrahim feared for her life. Instead, he said, the government has been protecting her from her own family members, who had accused her of adultery for marrying a Christian.

"She was being protected by the government because her family is against her. But from our side, we are going to protect her. Nothing will happen to her, or to her baby, or to her husband," Bilal said.

Bilal also said Khartoum is committed to a national political dialogue aimed at resolving the country's problems.

UN expert Adebayo Baderin had Tuesday reportedly called on the government to free political detainees and guarantee press freedom to show it's ready for a national dialogue.

Sudan detained Umma Party leader Sadiq al-Mahdi in May, but he was released earlier this month. Another opposition leader, Ibrahim al-Sheikh of the Sudan Congress, is still reportedly being held.

Bilal said both men violated Sudanese law.

"We are very much committed to the national dialogue. We have no political prisoners. They were arrested according to crimes against the national security, not because from the political point of view. We have no political prisoners whatsoever," Bilal said.

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