Pakistani authorities freed Asia Bibi, a Catholic woman acquitted of blasphemy, and she has flown to Canada to join her family at a secret address. Her release was confirmed on May 8 by Wilson Chowdhry of the British Pakistani Christian Association, who has been in almost daily contact with Ashiq Masih, Bibi’s husband.
In a statement sent by email to Catholic News Service, Chowdhry, who is based in London, said a British diplomat confirmed early on May 8 that Bibi had left her country.
“Ashiq has always remained hopeful of an imminent release from Pakistan, and we have both been shocked at how long it has taken,” he said. “Asia Bibi and Ashiq have remained resolute in their faith and have prayed daily for their release, and today God has answered their prayers,” he added.
Chowdhry said Bibi was “unwell” after being held in isolation for nearly a decade.
“She must be treated with utmost care and receive appropriate medical care, now she is free,” he said.
“The Pakistani government must ensure Asia and her family are compensated for the loss to their freedom and the fragile safety they have had to suffer under their auspices,” he continued. “Moreover, moves must be made to reform or abrogate the infamous blasphemy laws of Pakistan.”
Bibi’s release was subsequently confirmed by Saiful Malook, the lawyer who represented her in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
“She was reunited with her family in Canada more than five hours ago,” he told ucanews.com on May 8.
Bibi, a mother of five, was sentenced to hang for allegedly insulting Muhammad, the founder of Islam, under Section 295C of the Penal Code.