Released Sudanese Christian woman faces 2 new charges

Meriam Yehya Ibrahim

SUDAN — A Sudanese Christian woman who was sentenced to die for refusing to renounce her faith — and then released — has been charged on two criminal counts after trying to leave the African country for the United States, her legal team said Wednesday.

Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, who was detained with her American husband, Daniel Wani, and their two children at an airport in Khartoum on Tuesday, is accused of traveling with falsified documents and giving false information, according to her legal team.

The family is currently being held in a Khartoum police station and has been refused bail.

Ibrahim’s legal team told CNN that Daniel Wani is being held as an accessory.

The family was stopped at the airport after what Ibrahim’s lawyers described Tuesday as an alleged “irregularity with her documentation.”

Ibrahim has a U.S. visa and was headed to the United States with her family, her legal team said.

The U.S. State Department said Tuesday that Ibrahim and her family had been “temporarily detained at the airport” for questioning over issues relating to their travel and documentation.

“They have not been arrested. The government has assured us of their safety,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said then.

Harf said that the U.S. Embassy “has been and will remain highly involved in working with the family and the government,” saying “we are engaging directly with Sudanese officials to secure their safe and swift departure from Sudan.”

Sudanese authorities said Ibrahim had been detained because of the documents she submitted.

Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services said that she had South Sudanese travel documents, despite not being a citizen of South Sudan, and she was heading to the United States, which is not her native country.

“This was considered illegal by the Sudanese authorities, who have summoned both the U.S. and South Sudanese ambassadors,” the agency said in a message posted on its media Facebook page early Wednesday.

The airport detention came a day after Ibrahim’s legal team announced the 27-year-old woman had been released from prison after weeks of international controversy over her conviction on apostasy and adultery charges.

According to her lawyer, the case began when one of Ibrahim’s relatives, a Muslim, filed a criminal complaint saying her family was shocked to find out she had married Wani, a Christian, after she was missing for several years.

The Sudanese court considered Ibrahim a Muslim because her father was Muslim, but she said she was a Christian and never practiced Islam. She was charged with adultery, because a Muslim woman’s marriage to a Christian man is illegal in Sudan, and with apostasy, accused of illegally renouncing what was alleged to be her original faith.

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