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Sudan to release woman sentenced to death over Christian faith

KHARTOUM, Sudan - Sudan's official news agency says a court has ordered the release of a woman on death row for apostasy.

SUNA said the Court of Cassation in Khartoum on Monday canceled the death sentence against 27-year-old Meriam Ibrahim after defense lawyers presented their case. The court ordered her release.

Ibrahim, whose father was Muslim but who was raised by her Christian mother, was convicted of apostasy for marrying a Christian.

Sudanese media reported that Ibrahim gave birth in prison in May.

"They didn't even take Meriam to a hospital - she just delivered inside a prison clinic," her lawyer told The Telegraph last month. "Neither her husband nor I have been allowed to see them yet."

By law, children must follow their father's religion.

Amnesty International condemned the sentence, calling it "abhorrent," and the U.S. State Department said it was "deeply disturbed" by the sentence.

Sudan's penal code criminalizes the conversion of Muslims to other religions, a crime punishable by death.

Sudan introduced Islamic shariah laws in the early 1980s, a move that contributed to the resumption of an insurgency in the mostly animist and Christian south of Sudan. An earlier round of civil war lasted 17 years and ended in 1972. The south seceded in 2011 to become the world's newest nation, South Sudan.

Sudanese President Omar Bashir, who seized power in a 1989 military coup, is an Islamist who says his country will implement Islam more strictly now that the non-Muslim south is gone.

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