UK

Meriam Ibrahim Release Hopes Denied By Sudan

02/06/2014 09:48 BST | Updated 02/06/2014 09:59 BST

Hopes for a Sudanese Christian mother sentenced to hang for apostasy have been dashed as Sudan's government has denied it is set to release her, claiming a foreign ministry official had been taken out of context.

Meriam Ibrahim, who was pregnant when she was sentenced to death on May 15 and reportedly gave birth to a baby girl with her feet in shackles, had been told she would be "freed within days".

Her case has caused an international furore, with David Cameron denouncing the "barbaric" nature of sentence.

meriam yehya ibrahim ishag

Meriam Yehya Ibrahim (pictured here with husband Daniel Wani) has given birth to a baby girl in a Sudanese prison

Abdullah Alazreg, a foreign ministry under-secretary, had told the media on Saturday a reprieve would come "with legal procedure that will be taken by the judiciary and the ministry of justice".

But on Monday, this was denied by the foreign ministry who said the reprieve hinged on an appeal submitted by her defence team.

Alazreg had only conceded "that the defence team of the concerned citizen has appealed the verdict ... and if the appeals court rules in her favour, she will be released," the ministry stated.

"The government does not interfere in the work of the judiciary because it is an independent body", the ministry statement continued. "Some media took what the under-secretary said out of context, changing the meaning of what he said."

Ibrahim's American husband Daniel Wani and her lawyer Mohammed Mustapha had express skepticism over the weekend at the claims she would be freed.

"No one has contacted me and I don't think it will happen. We have submitted an appeal but they have not looked at it yet, so how is it that they will release her?" he said in a statement released through the couple's lawyer.

Mustapha also expressed doubts she would be released. "The only party who can do that is the appeals court but I am not sure that they have the full case file," he said.

Ibrahim was born to a Muslim father, but raised solely by her Christian mother, but Islamic law states a child carries the religion of the father. Refusing to give up her Christian faith, Ibrahim was sentenced to death by hanging for apostasy, and sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery for marrying Wani.

The court does not accept their inter-faith marriage is valid because, in their eyes, Ibrahim is a Muslim.

Ibrahim will be allowed to nurse her baby girl for two years before she is killed, if the sentence is carried out. Wani, who is wheelchair-bound and suffers from muscular dystrophy, is not even allowed to care for the couple's 20-month-old Martin because he is a Christian and his son is considered a Muslim, and the child is imprisoned with his mother.