U.S. Works for Meriam Ibrahim Exit in Sudan Death Row Case

KHARTOUM, SUDAN (ANS) -- The U.S. says it is working with Sudan to ensure a woman freed from death row can leave Meriam Ibrahimthe country, after she was detained at Khartoum airport.

According to a story by the BBC, Meriam Ibrahim's lawyer says she and her husband are being questioned over their travel documents. It is thought they were trying to fly to the U.S.

 She was sentenced in May to hang for renouncing Islam - sparking an outcry - but was released from jail on Monday.

Ibrahim's husband is a Christian from South Sudan.

Security agents detained Ibrahim, her husband Daniel Wani and their two children at the airport on Tuesday, her lawyer, Thabit Suliman, said.

"The security authorities have not stated why she was apprehended and they are still being held in a security building at the airport," the lawyer added.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Sudan's government had given assurances that Ibrahim and her family were safe.

Earlier, a top Sudanese official told the BBC that although Ibrahim is Sudanese, she was using emergency South Sudanese papers with a U.S. visa.

She would be asked to get a passport and exit visa on her release, the BBC reported Abdulla hi Alzareg from the ministry of foreign affairs said.

According to a story by Philip Sherwell, Hannah Strange and Harriet Alexander for The Daily Telegraph, they were initially thought to be planning to fly to South Sudan - the birthplace of Wani and now an independent country - as their paperwork to travel to the United States was still being processed.

The Telegraph said Ibrahim and her family were taken to the airport in a U.S. vehicle accompanied by American diplomats after South Sudan issued emergency travel paperwork for them. But the security officials at the airport apparently found problems with the documents.

Wani is an American citizen and supporters of the family, backed by the senators from his state of New Hampshire, have urged the U.S. to grant a visa to Ibrahim and citizenship to their two children.

Ibrahim was released from Omdurman women's prison after state media announced that the Supreme Court had annulled the sentence.

She had spent six months in a jail cell, sentenced to executi on by hanging for abandoning Islam, despite her assertions that she was raised a Christian by her Ethiopian Orthodox mother after her Muslim father left.

The Telegraph said accompanied by her two children Ibrahim was taken to a safe house in the Khartoum area on Monday afternoon.

In Sudan, which imposes Sharia law, apostasy is a crime punishable by death - and earlier this month Ibrahim's own brother called for her execution unless she "returned" to Islam.

The May 15 sentence also included 100 lashes for adultery related to her marriage to Wani, a Christian. Sudan does not recognize marriages between Muslims and non-Muslims.

The Telegraph said that some people saw the charges as the result of a family feud - and an attempt by Ibrahim's family to gain control of her successful small businesses.

The sentencing caused outrage around the world, and led to an international campaign to secure her freedom.