Pakistani Christian woman who spent eight years on death row in for blasphemy before she was freed last year, has flown to Canada where she has reunited with her family, her lawyer has said.
“It is a big day,” Saif Ul Malook, said. “Asia Bibi has left Pakistan and reached Canada. She has reunited with her family. Justice has been dispensed.”
Bibi had been in protective custody since her release last October, which sparked nationwide demonstrations by hardline Islamist groups.
Canada had offered her asylum in the country, where her daughters live, but close friends had told the Guardian the woman had been prevented from leaving by authorities.
Malook said Bibi’s safe arrival in Canada was the result of hard work by activists, foreign diplomats and others “who stood by Bibi in hard times and worked for her freedom”.
Bibi, a farm labourer, was accused by Muslim villagers of insulting the prophet Muhammad in a row over a cup of water. The supreme court judgment said there was no evidence to support the charge.
Bibi was sentenced to death in 2010 in what became Pakistan’s most infamous blasphemy case. She always maintained her innocence.
After the supreme court overturned her conviction, cities across Pakistan were paralysed for several days by violent demonstrations with enraged extremists calling for her beheading.
In a deal to end the violence, the government, led by the prime minister, Imran Khan, struck a deal allowing the petition seeking an appeal against the supreme court’s judgment. Khan was accused of capitulating to the extremists’ demands.
The supreme court upheld the acquittal in January.