Islamabad: Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman who was freed from death row by the Pakistan Supreme Court in a blasphemy case last year, has left the country and reached Canada to reunite with her family, according to her lawyer.
The 47-year-old mother of four was convicted in 2010 after being accused of insulting Islam in a row with her neighbours. She always maintained her innocence but has spent most of the past eight years in solitary confinement.
"Asia Bibi has left the country. She is a free person and travelled on her independent will," a source in the foreign office was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.
Bibi's counsel Saiful Malook confirmed that she has reached Canada, the Guardian reported.
"It is a big day. Asia Bibi has left Pakistan and reached Canada. She has reunited with her family. Justice has been dispensed," he was quoted as saying by the British newspaper.
He said that 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.
The Supreme Court had on October 31 last year acquitted her of blasphemy charges. The judgement triggered protests across Pakistan with protestors led by Islamic political party Tehreek-i-Labaik Pakistan and other groups blocking major highways and roads in different parts of the country.
The British Pakistani Christian Association too said in a statement that they had "received confirmation from a British diplomat that Aasia Bibi had safely exited Pakistan."
Geo News quoted sources as saying that the woman's documents were made a month ago.
The Pakistan government had in November rejected reports claiming Asia Bibi has fled abroad, saying the images on the social media showing the recently-acquitted Christian woman being greeted overseas are "fake".
It was reported in local media that she was taken to Noor Khan Airbase Rawalpindi, from where she would be shifted to the Netherlands.
Earlier, Italy had said it would help Bibi leave the country because her life was in danger following charges of blasphemy that put her on death row for eight years.
Her husband had also urged the US president, and the UK and Canada premiers to help her leave the country for her life.
Bibi's husband Ashiq Masih in a video message had appealed to the world leaders to help Asia leave Pakistan for her safety.