Islamic officials in Malaysia have unexpectedly freed Kartika Sari Dewa Shukarno, who was due to be caned six times this week for drinking beer.
Ms Kartika pleaded guilty to the offence under Islamic law committed in 2007 and has not appealed her sentence.
She would have been the first woman in Malaysia to be punished in such a way.
The case has provoked controversy in a nation where Malays are subject to Islamic law, while the large Chinese and Indian minorities are not.
A van had taken her from her northern Malaysian home to put her in detention so that she could be caned sometime this week.
But after half an hour the van returned, with officials saying the sentence would not be carried out.
Reuters news agency said she was refusing to leave the van until she had her release confirmed in writing.
The reason for her sudden release from the sentence remains unclear.
Prison rules require anyone who is to be caned to be in detention first.
But legal experts had said at the weekend that it was not right to detain Ms Kartika as she had not been given a jail sentence by the Islamic court.
A senior Shariah court judge and some lawyers have said she cannot be caned unless she is in jail, and as she was not given a jail sentence, she cannot be caned.
She had the right to sue the state government if she was unhappy with the procedures of her punishment, Malaysia's Syariah Lawyers Association said.
Ms Kartika, a 32-year old trained nurse and mother of two, asked last week that her caning be administered in public.
She had told reporters she was calm about the prospect and was willing to be caned because she respected the law.
Her sister was allowed to accompany her in the van and her father and sister have requested permission to witness the caning.
Both the ruling coalition in Malaysia and the opposition alliance need the support of the Islamist PAS party, and have so far been mostly silent on the case.
Islamic authorities claim that the purpose of the caning is to educate rather than punish.