In a much-anticipated move for Meriam Ibrahim, who sparked a controversy in Sudan after being sentenced to death for apostasy and adultery, the Sudanese courts acquitted her on Tuesday, but arrested her again. Detained at the Khartoum airport, her freedom was short-lived as she was arrested this time on two charges: falsifying travel documents and providing false information. The charges stem from her using an American passport with emergency travel papers issues by South Sudan rather than a Sudanese passport. These charges create an even larger legal battle for Ibrahim, as South Sudan has not recognized her as a Sudanese national yet.
Muhannad Mustafa, who legally represents Ibrahim, informed the media that after her release the family stayed at the U.S. Embassy in South Sudan. Ibrahim was first released on June 23. Following her internationally denounced arrest on charges of apostasy and adultery, the pregnant Ibrahim, who has since given birth to a daughter, was traveling to Khartoum on the way back to the U.S. when she was arrested again. The appeals court was forced to lift her death sentence in June, after the sentence and charges provoked international outrage.
South Sudan police have now leveled two new charges against her, this time accusing her of falsifying information and producing false documents. Since her release on Tuesday, authorities have prevented her from joining husband David Wani and their children as they leave for the U.S.
Reuters reported that Ibrahim was offered a conditional release. According to Mustafa the release required her to remain in Sudan following her release. A guarantor was found in time to release Ibrahim from jail, but she was not allowed to leave the country.
In Ibrahim’s most recent arrest, South Sudanese authorities have charged her with forgery in connection with the passport and travel documents she was using to travel to the U.S. The embassy in Khartoum confirmed that the emergency documents she used were genuine and were issued by South Sudan authorities. Wani, who holds U.S. citizenship and is a Sudanese national, was not implicated in the case. Officials view the issue differently, saying Ibrahim should have traveled with her Sudanese passport, and have summoned envoys from both the U.S. and South Sudan embassies over the issue.
The Sudanese embassy is being criticized for issuing the documents, despite their knowledge that Ibrahim is indeed a Sudanese national, while they condemned the U.S. for assisting in her illegal attempt to leave Sudan. The Intelligence Authority and Sudan’s National Security have lodged the complaint against Ibrahim, and BBC correspondents report that with their involvement the case is likely to become difficult to resolve.
Sudan has a heavy Muslim population and has been governed by Sharia law since the 1980s. Ibrahim, who was born to a Sudanese Muslim father and an Orthodox Ethiopian mother, has identified herself as Christian. She married David Wani in 2011. After being on death row and giving birth in prison Ibrahim’s torrid affair with Sudan seems to continue as she is arrested again.
By Rathan Paul Harshavardan.