That so-called “temporary delay” took the form of being stopped from leaving the country by 40 armed members of the Sudanese National Security Force, dubbed the “Agents of Fear” by human rights organizations. Sudan has assured the U.S. that the family is safe.
A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department told reporters, “They were temporarily detained for several hours over questions related to their documents." The spokesperson stated that the U.S. is working with Sudan to get the family safely out of the country.
The problem supposedly stems from the fact that Meriam is Sudanese, but was using South Sudanese documents with a U.S. visa through her husband, an American citizen. She will be asked to get a passport and exit visa, according to the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Daniel Wani, Meriam’s husband, is originally from South Sudan, but now lives in New Hampshire.
Despite all the assurances, Shareif Ali Shareif, one of Meriam’s attorneys, told the BBC that her legal team was denied access to her after they were rearrested earlier today. The Sudanese National Security Force, more properly the National Intelligence and Security Service or NISS, frequently intervenes in Sudanese politics and is powerful enough to bypass the courts and do whatever it deems necessary.
There has been speculation that the NISS was upset over the decision to release Meriam Ibrahim and the rearrest may have been a way to show their displeasure to the rest of the Sudanese government. It’s also possible that there were factions in the NISS that opposed each other. Not everyone agrees in Sudan, despite the laws.
Meriam Ibrahim was reunited with her family on Monday and taken to a safe house for protection. She had received death threats from many devout Muslims, one from her own brother, who were anxious to see Sharia law carried out. When the family attempted to leave the country this morning, they were detained by the NISS.
Despite the assurances that all is well and the family is safe, there is no word yet as to when the proper documents will be obtained for Meriam and the family can safely leave Sudan for the United States. There is also no report at this writing as to where they are staying.