by Nima Elbagir and Jason Hanna
A Sudanese Christian woman who’d been sentenced to die for refusing to renounce her faith — and then released — was arrested again Tuesday at an airport as she was trying to leave the African country, her legal team told CNN.
Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, her American husband, Daniel Wani, and their two children were stopped at an airport in Khartoum and then detained and interrogated at national security headquarters in the Sudanese capital, the legal team said.
Details about why the family was held weren’t immediately available.
Wani, in a phone call to CNN, also said that he and his family were being held at the national security office but did not provide details
The developments come 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.
In addition, a man claiming to be Ibrahim’s brother spoke Tuesday of seeking retribution, saying that Christians had tarnished his Islamic family’s honor through the case.
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, according to her lawyer.
The 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.
Authorities warned her to renounce Christianity by May 15, but she did not. She was convicted and sentenced last month to suffer 100 lashes and then be hanged.
Ibrahim said that her mother, an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian, raised her as a Christian. She said her Sudanese Muslim father abandoned her when she was 6.
“I am a Christian,” she said during her sentencing hearing last month, “and I will remain a Christian.”
After her sentence drew international condemnation from rights groups and foreign embassies in Khartoum — including those of the United States, United Kingdom and Canada — an appeals court this month ruled that the judgment against her was faulty, and she was released, according to her lawyer.
She gave birth to her second child — a girl — in prison last month. Her first child, a 1-year-old son, stayed with her at the prison but was free to leave at any time, according to her lawyer.
On Tuesday, a man who says he is Ibrahim’s brother, Al-Samani Al-Hadi, slammed the appellate court’s decision and talked of vengeance.
“The family is unconvinced by the court’s decision. We were not informed by the court that she was to be released; this came as a surprise to us,” Al-Hadi said. “The law has failed to uphold our rights.
“This is now an issue of honor. The Christians have tarnished our honor, and we will know how to avenge it.”
In court, Ibrahim denied being related to Al-Hadi.
Al-Hadi did not comment on Ibrahim’s detention Tuesday.
Sudanese parliament speaker Fatih Izz Al-Deen defended the conviction last month, insisting that assertions that Ibrahim was raised as non-Muslim are untrue. She was raised in an Islamic environment, Al-Deen said.