What's Taking So Long? Sudan Mom Stuck at Embassy
Almost two weeks after being freed from prison, many wonder why Meriam Ibrahim, along with her husband and two children, are still stuck in a corner of the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan.
"I think it is a good question that everybody is asking," said Tina Ramirez, founder of Hardwired, an organization that works to end religious oppression around the world. "The charges were dismissed; she was at the airport she should have been able to go."
Ibrahim was sentenced to death and 100 lashes for refusing to recant her Christian faith. Finally, after spending eight months in a women's prison in Khartoum, Ibrahim was freed on June 30.
A day after her release, however, Ibrahim was re-arrested along with her family at the international airport in Khartoum as they tried to leave for the United States.
"She was traveling outside the country on those documents, and the Sudanese government didn't recognize them so they've charged her for falsifying documents," Ramirez explained.
Ramirez tells CBN News it appears the Sudanese government is delaying that case by preventing the prosecutor from moving forward.
In addition, Ramirez says another case against Ibrahim involving a family appeal on the case dealing with her relationship to her Muslim father is scheduled to be heard July 17 but can't proceed until Ibrahim is served papers -- something Ramirez says cannot happen while she's at the U.S. Embassy.
Ramirez is calling for an end to the delays and the unconditional release of Ibrahim. She says it's critical that international support continues for Ibrahim with more pressure on the Sudanese government on her behalf.
***Sign the petition to help free Meriam Ibrahim and change Sudan's oppressive apostasy laws.
The U.S. State Department says it's working to get Ibrahim and her family out of the country.
"We are engaging directly with Sudanese officials to secure their safe and swift departure from Sudan," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.
But in an earlier interview with CBN News, Ramirez said the State Department should have done more a lot sooner with this case.
"Daniel (Ibrahim's husband) had been petitioning for his wife to come here for the past three years since they were married," Ramirez noted.
"A typical visa for a spouse will take about six to nine months so for this to have gone on for three years to the point where then her family was able to bring a case against her to put her in prison - it shows an extreme amount of negligence on the part of the American embassy in Khartoum," she said.
During her imprisonment, the 27-year-old mother gave birth to her second child, a daughter, while her legs were shackled.
"Her doctors had advised the prison officials to let her go and deliver at the hospital, and they didn't allow her to, so she actually was chained in both legs and was not able to give birth in the normal manner," Ramirez said.
Ramirez says the treatment of Ibrahim while in prison "violated so many human rights."
For Ramirez and other human rights activists, this isn't just about rescuing Ibrahim. It's also about drawing attention to Sudan's harsh apostasy law.
"There are other Christians that are being prosecuted under the apostasy law, which says that if you are a Muslim and you leave your faith and become a Christian then you can be put to death," she said. "And we want to change that law."