AFP-Jiji ISLAMABAD (AFP-Jiji) — A Pakistani Christian woman who spent eight years on death row for blasphemy has been freed from jail and is believed to have already flown out of the city of Multan where she was being held, heading for an unknown destination, her lawyer said Thursday.
Asia Bibi’s release comes a week after her acquittal in a landmark case that triggered angry Islamist protests in Muslim-majority Pakistan and following appeals from her husband for Britain or the United States to grant the family asylum. Her lawyer fled to the Netherlands on Saturday under threat to his life.
Bibi’s conviction was overturned by the country’s highest court last Wednesday, but she remained in prison as the government negotiated with hard-liners who blockaded major cities and demanded her immediate execution.
“She has been freed,” lawyer Saif-ul-Mulook said in a text message to AFP. “I have been told that she is on a plane but nobody knows where she will land.”
According to a civil aviation official, the aircraft that collected Bibi from jail would be required to land in Islamabad but it was unclear if she may have had a connecting flight.
Following protests at last week’s ruling, the government agreed in a deal with Islamists to impose a travel ban on Bibi, and not to challenge an appeal in the Supreme Court.
An order for her release arrived Wednesday at the jail in the central city of Multan where she was held, a prison official told AFP.