Pakistan blasphemy case: Asia Bibi freed from jail after spending eight years on death row

ISLAMABAD, Nov 8: A Pakistani Christian woman has been freed from prison a week after the Supreme Court overturned her conviction and death sentence for blasphemy against Islam, and she is at a secure location in the country, officials said on Thursday.
Officials dismissed some media reports that the woman, Asia Bibi, had been flown abroad, which would enrage hardline Islamists who have been protesting against her release and calling for her to be banned from leaving.
The release overnight of the mother of five prompted immediate anger from an Islamist party that has threatened to paralyse the country with street protests if her acquittal is not reversed.
Bibi, 53, was convicted of blasphemy in 2010 over allegations she made derogatory remarks about Islam after neighbours objected to her drinking water from their glass because she was not Muslim.
She always denied having committed blasphemy.
The case has outraged Christians worldwide, and Pope Francis met Bibi’s family this year, saying he prayed for her. Italy said on Tuesday it would try to help Bibi, who is Catholic, to leave Pakistan.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry denied reports that Bibi had left the country and pointed out that a review of the Supreme Court decision to free her was pending.
“Asia Bibi is completely secure at a safe place in Pakistan,” said ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal.
“Her writ is in court, when that is decided, Asia Bibi can go anywhere she wants to, she is a free national … if she wants to go abroad, no harm in it.”
In Rome, the Catholic aid agency Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) said Bibi has been able to see her husband in an undisclosed location. (Reuters)