x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Saudi has 'no suspicions' about deported bin Laden family

A Saudi spokesman said late on Saturday that his government has no suspicions about relatives of the killed Al Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, who were deported from Pakistan last week, breaking an official news blackout over their admission to the kingdom.

RIYADH // A Saudi spokesman said late on Saturday that his government has no suspicions about relatives of the killed Al Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, who were deported from Pakistan last week, breaking an official news blackout over their admission to the kingdom.

"Saudi Arabia acted out of humanitarian considerations ... in so far as there are no reports or evidence of any implication in criminal or illegal acts," the official Saudi Press Agency quoted the spokesman as saying.

"At the request of the Bin Laden family in Saudi Arabia, steps were taken to facilitate the return of members of Osama bin Laden's family, who arrived on Thursday night in Jeddah where they were welcomed by their relatives," the spokesman added.

"It is inappropriate to discuss in any way the details of the private life of the bin Laden family in Saudi Arabia."

Earlier on Saturday, a Saudi-owned daily newspaper reported that the authorities had allowed bin Laden's three widows and their children entrance into the kingdom on humanitarian grounds.

Citing a senior Saudi official, the London-based Asharq al-Awsat said the kingdom "dealt with bin Laden's wives on humanitarian grounds", adding that the authorities were confident that they and the children "were not involved in" the operations of the extremist group.

At around midnight Pakistan time on Thursday, a minivan whisked the Al Qaeda leader's relatives from the Islamabad house where they had been in custody to the city's airport. They left for Saudi Arabia just before 2am.

A Pakistani interior ministry spokesman said deportation orders were issued for 14 bin Laden relatives to Saudi Arabia, "the country of their choice". The family was previously thought to number 12 - three widows, eight children and one grandchild.

After being held for 10 months, the widows and two of bin Laden's older daughters were sentenced by a Pakistani court to 45 days' detention in their Islamabad house on charges of illegal entry and residency and ordered to be deported.

Their deportation comes nearly a year after the Al Qaeda leader was killed in a US commando raid.