Sudanese officials have freed a Springfield man who was recently rearrested there despite being acquitted of terrorism
in connection with a July 3 pro-*democracy demonstration.
Rudwan Dawod was with relatives in Sudan’s capital city of Khartoum by 2 p.m. Thursday, Oregon time, his American wife, Nancy Williams Dawod, confirmed an hour later.
“We understand that the government of Sudan is saying he is free to leave,” added Tom Prichard, the director of Sudan Sunrise, an ecumenical relief and reconciliation organization that employs Rudwan Dawod as a project director in his homeland.
Rudwan Dawod, 30, could return to his Springfield home as early as next week, both his wife and Prichard said. The Dawods are expecting their first child in September.
“I’m so happy — I got to talk to Rudwan!” an elated Nancy Dawod said in a telephone interview. “He’d just gotten to his family’s home and hadn’t even had a chance to get water or see his family or anything. He said he had lots and lots of people waiting for him.”
She had not spoken to her husband since his arrest for organizing a protest with the student group Girifna.
A Sudanese judge on Tuesday found Dawod not guilty of everything but a relatively minor charge, one that Nancy Dawod likened to disturbing the peace. The judge imposed a sentence of time served and a $100 fine, and ordered Rudwan Dawod’s release.
Nancy Dawod was ecstatic after learning about the verdict on the Internet. Less than a half-hour later, however, security forces had again taken her husband to an undisclosed location for unknown reasons.
She said Thursday that the U.S. State Department told her early this week that the Sudanese Embassy had indicated that new charges were imminent.
“But Rudwan said they told him there were no new charges,” she said.
Prichard said his organization attributes Thursday’s release of Rudwan Dawod and two other activists to the Islamic holiday Eid, which begins Sunday. It is the culmination of Ramadan, the faith’s holy month of dawn-to-sunset fasting. Eid observances emphasize unity and charity, and many Muslim countries have a tradition of releasing prisoners as a show of benevolence, Prichard said.
Sudan Sunrise officials believe Rudwan Dawod was rearrested because Sudan’s “security apparatus was furious that the court was being lenient on him,” Prichard said.
Prichard said Dawod was unable to immediately fly back to the United States because his Sudanese passport has expired and he lost possession of some of his other legal papers while in jail.
“They’re working on getting the paperwork straightened out as soon as possible,” Prichard said.
Nancy Dawod said she is glad that her husband, a Muslim, can be with his family for the last days of Ramadan. “It’s their biggest holiday,” she said.
She said the Sudanese government is requiring him to check in every morning at the national security service office. But her husband will be sure to have a lawyer and other witnesses with him, she said, and seems convinced that he will be permitted to return to the United States.
“He said they talked very honestly with him,” she said. “They asked him not to be a part of any (more) demonstrations and he agreed, because he wants to come home. He said they want him out of the area, out of Sudan, as soon as possible. We’ll get him on a plane.”