Hasan Suroor

Efforts on for Gibbons’ release

LONDON: British government on Sunday said it was working through a “wide range of channels” to secure the early release of Gillian Gibbons, the British schoolteacher serving a 15-day jail sentence in Sudan for naming a teddy bear Muhammad.

According to the Foreign Office, the 54-year schoolteacher from Liverpool, who is reportedly being held in a government house in Khartoum, has confirmed that she is being “treated well” and is in a “comfortable and secure environment.”

“Well-treated”

“Government Ministers and officials in London and Sudan are continuing to do everything they can to try to resolve this consular issue as quickly as possible through intense activity on a wide range of channels,” a spokesman said after the British ambassador in Sudan visited Ms. Gibbons.

In her first public comment since she was jailed last Thursday, Ms. Gibbons sought to defuse the row saying that, if allowed, she would like to stay on in Sudan.

She also said that she wanted people to know that she was being “well-treated and especially that I am being well-fed.

“I’ve been given so many apples that I feel I could set up my own stall. The guards are constantly asking if I have everything I need,” she said in a statement released through her lawyer.

Praising the Sudanese people as “pleasant and very generous”, Ms. Gibbons said: “I’m really sad to leave and if I could go back to work tomorrow, then I would.”

Her remarks came as two British Muslim peers — Labour’s Lord Ahmed and the Conservatives’ Baroness Warsi — who flew to Khartoum on Saturday to negotiate her early release were set to meet Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, to plead her case.

The peers, who met Ms. Gibbons, said she was in good spirits. After meeting senior Sudanese officials, they sounded optimistic about securing her release but cautioned against premature celebrations.

“What we have done is, very much put our case to the Ministers and we’ve said how this is perceived in the West,” Lord Ahmed said.