U.S. says the case of Sudanese woman sentenced to death is ‘horrific’

U.S. officials raised the plight of the Sudanese woman awaiting execution for converting to Christianity

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The United States described as “horrific” Thursday the case of a Christian Sudanese woman who has been sentenced to hang for converting from Islam.

High-level U.S. officials have raised the plight of Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, 27, with top Sudanese counterparts and U.S. embassy officials have been attending her public hearings and will monitor the appeals process in Khartoum.

“We’re concerned about this horrific case, and we’ve expressed that many, many, many times,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Ishag’s husband Daniel Wani is a U.S. citizen, and he told AFP on Tuesday that he was trying to visit his wife in the women’s jail in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman after she gave birth to their second child, a baby girl.

Ishag already has a 20-month-old son, who is also incarcerated with her, rights activists say.

Born to a Muslim father, she was convicted under the Islamic sharia law that has been in force in Sudan since 1983 and outlaws conversions. She was sentenced to death on May 15.

Psaki said she was unable to discuss details of the case publicly because Wani has not signed a statement waiving his right to privacy.

But she revealed that Undersecretary Wendy Sherman called in the Sudanese charge d’affaires in Washington last week to discuss Ishag’s case.

And U.S. special envoy for Sudan, Donald Booth, had spoken with the foreign minister “to convey our grave concerns.”

Booth “also called upon the government of Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion, including one’s right to change one’s faith or beliefs,” Psaki said.

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