Sudanese Woman Cleared Of Apostasy Now Facing New Criminal Charges
(CNSNews.com) – Meriam Ibrahim, whose family was prevented from leaving Sudan for several hours on Tuesday after she was cleared of apostasy charges, is now facing up to seven more years of incarceration on new allegations that she presented false documentation to Sudanese immigration officials.
Ibrahim’s legal team reportedly told CNN that the family was interrogated in Sudan’s national security headquarters after being detained at the international airport in Khartoum for several hours on Tuesday.
Abdullahi Alzareg, an official with Sudan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the BBC that Ibrahim allegedly tried to use emergency papers from South Sudan and a U.S. visa to exit the country.
Both CNN and the Daily Mail reported Wednesday that Ibrahim has been charged with two counts of traveling using fake documents and giving false information to Sudanese officials, according to her lawyers.
In a call with CNSNews.com, a State Department spokesman referred back to repeated Sudanese claims that Ibrahim was detained due to problems with her travel documents, and stated that her husband, Daniel Wani, who is a U.S. citizen, had stayed with her out of solidarity.
Marie Harf, the department’s deputy spokesperson, mentioned during Wednesday’s press briefing that “the family was taken to a police station for further questioning, where police subsequently re-arrested her on charges related to her travel documents. She has been held since then at the police station. Her family is with her.”
“Embassy staff have been in frequent contact with the family and its lawyers and have provided needed supplies to the family while she has been in the custody of the police,” Harf said. “The government of Sudan has assured us of the family’s safety.”
“Finally, at the request of the government of Sudan, our chargé d'affaires met today with the Sudanese Foreign Ministry to discuss the case. He reaffirmed our concern that the family should be allowed to depart swiftly from Sudan, that we would work on that with them. And to the best of our knowledge, these charges are not related to the previous case; these are related to her travel documents.”
“It is my understanding that her husband has not been arrested,” Harf continued. “Obviously, I don’t think their children have been either. I do believe they are staying with her to be with her.”
Religious freedom advocates have been criticizing the Obama administration for not doing enough to help Ibrahim and her family get out of Sudan, where she was imprisoned with her two young children and sentenced to death for not renouncing her Christian faith.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) called on President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to help the family escape from their predicament.
“I think it is a fair question to ask why the administration put her in a position where the Sudanese government could forcibly take her into custody again. Their stated intentions to torture and murder her had been made clear,” Cruz said on Tuesday.
Cameron Thomas of D.C.-based International Christian Concern wrote in the Tablet on Tuesday that “a lack of strong U.S. leadership has turned its handling of Meriam’s case into an inexcusable debacle.”
“The administration has once again chosen to drag its feet in publicly addressing the reprehensible imprisonment of a Christian for their faith, and now she and her entire family have been detained,” Thomas said.
Ibrahim, who was raised by a Christian mother, was imprisoned and sentenced to death on charges of adultery with her own husband and refusing to convert to Islam.
After the harsh sentence was condemned by multiple foreign governments and human rights groups, Ibrahim was released on Monday after the Sudanese appeals court threw out the apostasy charges.