(Photo: Lapo Pistelli Facebook photo)
Christian mother Meriam Ibrahim and her family have left Sudan and flew to Italy, where they were met by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, according to reports. Renzi declared a "day of celebration" for the woman, who had initially been sentenced to death for renouncing Islam and marrying a Christian Sudanese-American.
"Mission accomplished," said Lapo Pistelli, Italy's vice-minister for foreign affairs, who accompanied Ibrahim, her husband, Daniel Wani, and their two young children on the flight from Khartoum.
BBC News reported that there had been no prior indication of Italy's involvement in the case.
Following an international outcry over her sentence, Ibrahim was released from prison in June. She was briefly re-arrested while attempting to fly out of Sudan, with authorities claiming she had attempted to use fake travel documents.
The family had been staying at the U.S. embassy in Sudan while awaiting permission to fly to America. Several persecution watchdog groups had taken up Ibrahim's cause, while U.S. lawmakers had called for her and her family to be granted safe passage to the U.S.
A senior Sudanese official confirmed that Sudan's government had approved of Ibrahim's departure to Italy, Reuters said.
Earlier this week, New York City pastor William Devlin revealed that he had met with Ibrahim and her family in Khartoum, and offered to pay for their trip to the U.S. and house them indefinitely in his family's home.
"I, along with another brother in the Lord, were able to go to the Safe House where this persecuted family is currently living in Khartoum and minister to them for over an hour," the pastor said in an email to The Christian Post.
"I had the joy of asking Meriam if I could hold little Maya (who was crying at the time) and my eyes welled up with tears as this little girl, born in prison, fell asleep in my arms as I rocked her. At the end our time together, I was able to lay hands on this family and pray for them in the Name of Jesus."
Ibrahim refused to deny her Christian faith while in prison, even after being told it could spare her the death penalty. While the Sudanese court had attempted to prove that she is a Muslim, the mother said that she was raised by her Ethiopian Orthodox Christian mother and has identified as a Christian her entire life.
Ibrahim's Muslim relatives in Sudan had claimed that she belongs to her Muslim father, who abandoned the family when she was a child, but the lawsuit was dropped last week.