Skip to main content

Sudanese Christian woman, husband released from custody

By Nima Elbagir and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 5:45 PM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mariam Yehya Ibrahim and her husband say they were freed on bail
  • They tell CNN they are prohibited from leaving the country
  • The couple and their two children were planning to travel to the United States
  • Ibrahim had been sentenced to death for apostasy, then released on appeal

(CNN) -- A Sudanese Christian woman who had been sentenced to die for refusing to renounce her faith and her husband were released from custody late Thursday, the two told CNN.

Mariam Yehya Ibrahim and her husband, Daniel Wani, said that they were freed on bail but are prohibited from leaving the country.

The pair had been detained after they arrived at an airport in Khartoum with their children on Tuesday. She is accused of two criminal counts, traveling with falsified documents and giving false information, according to Ibrahim's legal team.

Ibrahim was trying to leave the African country for the United States with her family, her legal team said Wednesday. Daniel Wani was being held as an accessory, the lawyers said.

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

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.

"She and her family are in a safe location, and the Government of Sudan has assured us of the family's continued safety," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Thursday, confirming that Ibrahim had been released on bail.

Harf said that the U.S. Embassy "remains highly engaged" in the woman's case, saying "we will provide more information as it becomes available consistent with privacy laws."

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.

Woman's 'brother' says she should repent

What does Christian woman's death sentence for faith say about Sudan?

Why marrying for love should never mean death

Journalist Muhammad Osman contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 7:17 PM EDT, Tue July 29, 2014
While aspects of the fighting in Gaza resemble earlier clashes, this time feels different, writes military analyst Rick Francona.
updated 8:45 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
The death of an American from Ebola fuels fears of the further global spread of the virus.
updated 8:06 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Nearly two weeks after MH17 was blown out of the sky, Dutch investigators have yet to lay eyes on the wreckage. How useful will it be now?
updated 8:56 PM EDT, Tue July 29, 2014
The U.S. and EU are imposing new sanctions on Moscow -- but will they have any effect?
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
The reported firing of artillery from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle, says CNN's military analyst Rick Francona.
updated 4:46 AM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
The young boy stops, stares, throws ammunition casings at the reporter's feet without a word.
updated 8:48 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Photograph of an undisclosed location by Patrycja Makowska
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
When the Costa Concordia and its salvage convoy finally depart Giglio, the residents will breathe a sigh of relief -- and shed a tear.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT