June 26, 2018 / 10:26 AM / 5 months ago

Germany holds suspected former bin Laden bodyguard pending deportation

BERLIN (Reuters) - A Tunisian man suspected of being an Islamist radical who once served as Osama bin Laden’s bodyguard is in detention in Germany pending deportation to Tunisia, a spokesman for the city of Bochum said on Tuesday.

The case of Sami A. sparked outrage in April after German media reported he was receiving welfare benefits even though intelligence agencies had classified him as a potential threat.

Police said on Monday that they had arrested Sami A. after being asked to do so by authorities in the western city of Bochum and he had offered no resistance.

Peter van Dyk, a spokesman for the city of Bochum, said on Tuesday that Sami A. had appeared before a judge on Monday who had decided the suspect should be placed in detention pending deportation.

Van Dyk said the city of Bochum had on Monday received a notification from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) saying that they no longer considered there to be obstacles to his deportation.

German authorities have been trying to deport the man, who has lived in the northwestern city of Bochum since 1997, since 2006 but the threat of torture in his home country had prevented this, according to a previous report in Bild.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has ordered immigration authorities to expedite proceedings that would allow Germany to deport Sami A.

Bin Laden was a founder and leader of the militant Islamist movement al-Qaeda which carried out many attacks on U.S. and other Western targets including the September 11 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. He was shot dead in May 2011 in Pakistan in an operation by U.S. special forces.

Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Richard Balmforth

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