After one day of freedom, Meriam Ibrahim was rearrested yesterday with no explanation. Having been sentenced to death in May for her alleged crimes of apostasy (abandoning her Islamic practices for the Christian faith), the court had dropped all charges Monday and released her from imprisonment.
According to her legal team, Ibrahim has been charged on two criminal accounts: using phony documents and providing false information. As a result, she, along with her husband, Daniel Wani (who holds dual U.S.-Sudanese citizenship) and their two children, are being kept in a police station in Khartoum. They have also been denied bail.
According to CNN, Ibrahim’s lawyers say Wani is being held as an accessory.
While making their way through the international airport in Khartoum yesterday, the family was detained and interrogated by agents from the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) at a national security office as they prepared to leave Sudan. They claimed there was an alleged “irregularity” with her documentation.
Via Fox News:
“It is regrettable and disturbing that some elements attempted to bring Meriam to U.S by issuing her an entry visa on a fraudulent traveling document obtained from a foreign country (for a woman the whole world knows … is [a] Sudanese national ),” Yasin said in a statement. “That is inexcusable and unnecessary violations for all laws and regulations, including U.S. ones. The same legal system that protects her right and secures her freedom is capable of guaranteeing her right to leave the country whenever the legal procedure comes to an end.”
While the U.S. State Department said Tuesday the detention was temporary and that American diplomats were working with their Sudanese counterparts to free Ibrahim, a post on the Facebook page of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services’ media department indicated the charges are considered serious in the Muslim nation.
“The airport passport police arrested Abrar after she presented emergency travel documents issued by the South Sudanese Embassy and carrying an American visa,” read the post, referring to Ibrahim by her Muslim family name. “The Sudanese authorities considered [the action] a criminal violation, and the Foreign Ministry summoned the American and South Sudanese ambassadors.”
It appears her travel document was issued by South Sudan – the predominantly Christian country that seceded from Sudan in 2011. Incidentally, this new nation is not on good terms with Khartoum–which is bad news for Ibrahim and her family. Ibrahim is also not a citizen of South Sudan, which could be how Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services got their feathers ruffled in the first place.
Addtionally, the nation’s diplomatic involvement could be explained by Wani’s U.S. citizenship, says Alan Goulty, former UK ambassador to Sudan and a Global Fellow for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
“As of this morning, [Ibrahim] was still being held at the police station,” said Al-Sharif Ali, a member of her legal team. “Her lawyer was able to finally see her.”
The 27-year-old woman first gained the court’s attention when she was arrested in August 2013, charged with adultery. She was later accused of apostasy in February 2014 after refusing to recant her Christian faith.
Ibrahim says she became a Christian as a child, adopting the faith of her Ethiopian mother who raised her. Her father, a Muslim, abandoned her family when she was young. Ibrahim later married Wani in 2011; and together, they run multiple businesses.