A U.S. citizen, who rushed to his native Sudan to save his pregnant wife from the death sentence, described his horror at seeing her shackled in a prison cell.
Meriam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag, a 27-year-old doctor, was charged with adultery for marrying Christian Daniel Wani, a Sudanese man with U.S. citizenship who lives in New Hampshire.
She was sentenced to 100 lashes as the Sudanese court refuses to recognize her 2011 marriage to Mr Wani because they consider Ishag a Muslim.
The eight-months pregnant woman, who has a toddler son, was subsequently sentenced to death for the crime of apostasy. Sudanese law considers her a Muslim while she has declared that she was raised Christian and refuses to convert to Islam because it is the only religion she knows.
She told the court: ‘I was never a Muslim. I was raised a Christian from the start.’
Ishag is considered Muslim by the Sudanese court because her father was a Sudanese Muslim. However the woman was raised by her Ethiopian Christian mother after her father left them.
She has been shackled at the legs in jail since the sentence was handed down, her husband said.
Mr Wani, 33, was allowed to visit his wife for the first time on Monday where she is being held along with the couple’s 20-month-old son Martin.
The father is not allowed to care for Martin because he is a Christian and his son is considered a Muslim.
Tina Ramirez, executive director of Hardwired, an American group which fights for religious freedom around the world, told Fox: ‘He originally was not allowed to see her until this week.
‘Once he was able to, she was shackled and her legs were swollen.’
The couple’s lawyer is working on an appeal to the 27-year-old’s sentence amid mounting international pressure.
The White House condemned the pregnant mother’s treatment and urged the Government of Sudan to meet its obligations under international human rights law.
A statement from several lawyers associated with the Sudanese high court also called for an appeal to the death sentence, which was a sign that the country’s government was paying attention to the outcry, Ms Ramirez said.
The death sentence has been put on hold until she has given birth and nurses her newborn.
Mr Wani now lives in Manchester with his brother Gabriel, who told WMUR that his sibling had returned home to do everything he could to save his wife.
Gabriel Wani said: ‘I’m just praying for God. He can do a miracle. Everyone is depressed. You don’t believe it. It’s shock.’
Gabriel Wani said that his brother was at the family’s home in Khartoum where he was trying to work iwith the U.S. Embassy to appeal his wife’s sentence.
Daniel Wani was in fear for his life, his brother said and believed he was being watched.
Mr Wani married wife Meriam in a formal ceremony in 2011 and the couple own several businesses including a farm close to the Sudanese capital, Fox reported.