Yesterday’s good news has turned into perhaps even worse news than before. A day after Sudan buckled under international pressure and released Meriam Yehia Ibrahim from prison and a death sentence for apostasy, security forces arrested the entire family at the airport as they attempted to leave the country:
A Sudanese woman whose death sentence for refusing to renounce her Christian faith was revoked has been rearrested, her legal team told CNN Tuesday.
Meriam Ibrahim, 27, and her husband, Daniel Wani, were arrested Tuesday at an airport in Sudan’s capital as they were trying to leave the African country, Ibrahim’s legal team said.
The Daily Mail reports that forty agents took the family of four into custody:
The couple were detained by around 40 security agents with their two children, Maya, one month, and Martin, 21 months.
Meriam’s lawyer, Shareif Ali Shareif, told MailOnline: ‘Meriam Ibrahim and Daniel Wani were arrested at the airport two hours ago [about 1230GMT).
‘They are now in the detention of the National Security forces.
‘The family were trying to leave Sudan for a safe place.
‘The children were with them. The children are with Meriam. They were arrested as well.
‘We don’t have any information about what charges they face. But the National Security force does not have to take them to court. This is not a criminal matter, it a national security matter.’
That cuts both ways, though. In the prior case, the Sudanese government claimed to have no authority to intervene in judicial proceedings (the same would be true here). This is no judicial proceeding, but an act of the government. Diplomacy in this case directly bears on the detention of Ibrahim and her family.
Furthermore, the detention now involves an American citizen, Daniel Wani, as well as the citizenship of his two children. The State Department has to take action with the Sudanese government in this situation, especially given the affront of arresting Wani in the first place after all of the discussion between the US and Sudan over his wife.
The global outcry over Ibrahim’s death sentence for her faith helped to set her free. Let’s hope a similar outcry over this arrest as she prepared to leave Sudan to practice her faith freely does the same, and let’s also hope that State is burning up the phone lines demanding an end to Sudan’s persecution of Ibrahim, her family, and all Christians in the country.
Update: Reuters confirms the arrest with a Sudanese official, although they still won’t say why:
Sudanese authorities re-arrested a Sudanese woman on Tuesday hours after she was freed from death row, and detained her and her family as they tried to board a plane in Khartoum, a security source and her lawyer said. …
The security official said he did know the reason for the re-arrest. One of Ibrahim’s lawyers said she was being held at a security building outside the airport with her husband and two children.
The State Department needs to get the family on a diplomatic transport as soon as possible.