Christian Asia Bibi who spent years on death row in Pakistan on a blasphemy charge, has moved to Canada to join her family, according to her lawyer. Bibi and her family had to stay in hiding even after she was released.
Asia Bibi has been reunited with her family, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday.
“The United States welcomes the news that Asia Bibi has safely reunited with her family,” Pompeo said in a statement. “Asia Bibi is now free, and we wish her and her family all the best following their reunification.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declined to confirm whether she has arrived in Canada.
“There are sensitive privacy issues and security issues on this and so I can’t comment,” Trudeau told reporters outside parliament.
However, UK Prime Minister Theresa May appeared to confirm she had gone to Canada: “Canada made this offer and we thought it was right and appropriate that we supported the offer that Canada had made,” May said.
Leaving in secret
A family member told that Bibi’s daughters were waiting for her in the Canadian city of Calgary and that “Canadian authorities will keep the family under tight security and Bibi will not interact with media.”
The family told late on Tuesday, before the flight, that they had been asked to prepare to leave in secret.
Bibi’s departure was delayed for six months after her acquittal, reportedly due to extreme pressure from the deep state not to speak out. Bibi was not allowed to complete paperwork to finalize her asylum in the West. Diplomatic and government sources in Islamabad confirmed.
After the Supreme Court order to release Bibi, the 53-year-old mother-of-five was shifted to the southern port city of Karachi last November. There, she was put into protective custody, as she was constantly facing death threats from Islamist hardliners. Bibi’s lawyer Saif ul Malook left the country in November last year, also after receiving death threats.
“We are happy that she fled the country after long delays and got justice. We were concerned about her safety but were not allowed to meet her or even speak with her over the phone to complete the paperwork,” one diplomat told.