Sudan has summoned the ambassadors of United States and South Sudan following the renewed detention of Meriam Ibrahim who was trying to fly to America with her family after being released from death row, the Sudanese security service has said.
Ibrahim was freed on Monday after an appeals court cancelled the death sentence imposed for apostasy after Khartoum came under what it called unprecedented international pressure.
She was detained again on Tuesday for trying to use documents issued by the embassy of South Sudan to fly out of Khartoum with her American-South Sudanese husband and their two children – deepening the diplomatic wrangle over her case.
Sudan does not recognise her as a South Sudanese citizen because, despite lifting her sentence, it does not recognise her marriage to a Christian, something not allowed under the Islamic laws applied in Sudan, where most people are Sunni Muslims.
South Sudan, with a majority Christian population, became independent from Sudan after a public vote in 2011 that ended years of civil war between the two states. Ibrahim insisted that she had been brought up as a Christian, despite her father being Muslim. She was also sentenced to be publicly flogged for adultery following a court's ruling that her marriage to a Christian man was invalid.
"The airport passport police arrested Abrar after she presented emergency travel documents issued by the South Sudanese embassy and carrying an American visa," Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services said on its Facebook page, referring to Ibrahim by her Muslim name.
"The Sudanese authorities considered [the action)] a criminal violation, and the foreign ministry summoned the American and South Sudanese ambassadors."
Ibrahim's lawyer told Reuters she was charged with forging the travel papers. Under Sudan's penal code, forging a document is punishable by up to five years in prison.
On Wednesday, she was still being held at a Khartoum police station where she had spent the night with her family, who refused to go without her, the lawyer said.
Her case triggered an international outcry and was closely monitored by Washington and London, which last month summoned the Sudanese charge d'affaires to protest against Ibrahim's initial death sentence and urge Sudan to uphold its international obligations on freedom of religion or belief.
In Washington, the US state department said on Tuesday the American embassy in Khartoum was working with the family and the Sudanese government to resolve the matter.
"The government has assured us of their safety," a department spokeswoman told reporters. "We are engaging directly with Sudanese officials to secure their safe and swift departure from Sudan."
Translated: Someone needs to receive a big wad of money before they let her go.
South Sudan's presidential spokesman said Ibrahim's American husband was a South Sudanese citizen and that was the reason that his family's travel documents were issued from the South Sudan embassy in Khartoum.
The US has imposed economic sanctions on Sudan since 1997 following allegations of human rights violations. It intensified sanctions in 2006 after Khartoum's actions in its conflict with rebels in the western region of Darfur.