There are conflicting (and some might say encouraging) rumors about regarding the whereabouts and status of Meriam Ibrahim and her young family. For its part, the Daily Mail reports that her freedom is still pending, and that she won’t be able to leave Sudan for at least another three days. The AP reports, however, that she’s already been released (according to her lawyer) and therefore is making plans to travel to the United State as I write this. In either case, the news is good. But given recent events, and the Sudanese government’s rather erratic and disturbing behavior lately, it’s important to take any optimistic news with a grain of salt:
A Sudanese Christian woman whose death sentence for apostasy was overturned was freed again on Thursday after being detained on accusations of forging travel documents.
Eman Abdul-Rahman, the lawyer for 27-year-old Mariam Ibrahim, told The Associated Press that she was released from a police station after foreign diplomats pressed the government to free her. She was detained along with her husband and two small children, one born behind bars, at Khartoum's airport on Tuesday while trying to leave the country with her family.
For what it’s worth, we’re also beginning to understand why, after Ibrahim was initially released from prison, she was detained once again while attempting to flee Sudan. NBC News reports that it appears her resentful brother had something to do with it (via Ed Morrissey):
A Christian mother trying to flee Sudan for the United States was stopped at the airport following a tip-off from her own brother. …
The brother, Al Samani Al Hadi Mohamed Abdullah, said that her blood relatives should have been told she was about to be released from death row - rather than her Christian husband. "They did not let us know that she was about to be freed," he told Sudan’s Al Intibaha newspaper according to a translation by the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph. "It was a surprise for us."
Ibrahim’s initial charge for apostasy in August last year came after a family member told authorities she had converted from Islam to Christianity, which is punishable by death in Sudan. Her brother’s comments, published Wednesday, chime with earlier suggestions that the charges may have been part of a family feud stoked by differences of religion and attempts to seize her assets.
Bottom line: As Ed noted, Meriam Ibrahim’s freedom and safety -- as well as that of her family's -- cannot be confirmed until they arrive safely in the United States. The signs are encouraging, of course, but at this point in time, their fate remains uncertain.
UPDATE: The Daily Mail has confirmed Ibrahim and her family are now free to go:
The Christian mother who was sentenced to death in Sudan for refusing to become a Muslim was today dramatically freed from her latest detention - and could now come to the US.
Meriam Ibrahim was let out after 48 hours in jail for problems with her paperwork that stopped her from leaving the African country.
She is now set to fly to South Sudan and from there on to America where she could start her new life.
Campaigners however have urged caution and said that they will wait until Meriam actually gets out of Sudan before celebrating.