British Parliamentarians in Sudan

By MOHAMED OSMAN
The Associated Press
Saturday, December 1, 2007; 6:14 PM

KHARTOUM, Sudan -- Two British parliament members met officials in Sudan Saturday to try to secure the release of a British teacher imprisoned for naming a teddy bear Muhammad and later said the Khartoum government wants to resolve the case.

Britain's Channel 4 News quoted the teacher, Gillian Gibbons, as saying in a statement from police custody that she was being treated well.

"I'm fine. I'm well," Channel 4 quoted Gibbons as saying. "I want people to know I've been well treated, and especially that I'm well fed. I've been given so many apples I feel I could set up my own stall. The guards are constantly asking if I have everything I need.

"The Sudanese people in general have been pleasant and very generous, and I've had nothing but good experiences during my four months here. I'm really sad to leave, and if I could go back to work tomorrow then I would."

Channel 4 said the statement came from Gibbons' legal team in Khartoum but her lawyer, Kamal al-Gizouli, said he was unaware of any such statement being put out.

Fiona Long, a Channel 4 News spokeswoman, told The Associated Press that the program stood by the accuracy of its report.

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi and Lord Nazir Ahmed, both Muslim members of Parliament's upper house, had earlier visited Gibbons in prison for more than an hour.

"Gillian was surprisingly in good spirits considering the last seven days," Warsi, a Conservative, told Sky News.

Warsi and Ahmed arrived in Sudan Saturday on what the British Foreign Office called a private visit to meet with officials and seek the early release of Gibbons.

Concern for Gibbons' safety was sparked Friday after thousands of Sudanese, many armed with clubs and swords and beating drums, burned pictures of her and demanded her execution during a rally in the capital Khartoum.

"The Sudanese government (does) want to resolve this matter. ... (We) hope we can come to an amicable resolution soon," Warsi said after she and Ahmed met Sudanese officials.

"They've been very positive so far," Ahmed said in an interview with the BBC. "We've had very frank discussions, and we are very hopeful that ... we'll be meeting more ministers and officials and this will continue until such time as we can reach a satisfactory conclusion."


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