A Sudanese foreign ministry official is denying reports that a Christian woman accused of apostasy was re-arrested a day after an appeals court ordered her release from prison.
In a VOA interview, Dr. Sadek El Magli said officials instead took Meriam Yahya Ibrahim to an undisclosed location Tuesday to protect her from relatives angered by the court decision.
El Magli, a former Sudanese ambassador, said the woman may have already left Sudan.
Earlier Tuesday, lawyers for Ibrahim said security officials had arrested her at the Khartoum airport as she tried to board a flight with her family to leave Sudan.
They said officials took Ibrahim, her husband Daniel Wani, and their two young children to a security facility near the airport. Wani is an American citizen.
At the U.S. State Department, spokeswoman Marie Harf said U.S. officials had received word that Ibrahim had been released, but could not confirm if the family had left the country.
"The State Department has been informed by the Sudanese government that the family was temporarily detained at the airport for several hours by the government for questioning over issues related to their travel and, I think, travel documents," she said. "They have not been arrested. The government has assured us of their safety."
The case has drawn international attention. In May, Ibrahim was sentenced to death by hanging on her conviction of apostasy for refusing to abandon her Christian faith.
The conviction stemmed from a Sudanese law stating children of Muslim fathers are considered Muslim. Ibrahim was born to a Christian mother and a Muslim father. She was brought up as a Christian after her father left the family.
A court also sentenced Ibrahim to 100 lashes on charges of adultery for marrying Wani, who is a Christian. Under Sudanese law, marriage between Muslims and non-Muslims is not permitted.
Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AFP and AP.