JEDDAH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has allowed the family of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden into the kingdom on humanitarian grounds, state media reported on Saturday, almost a year after U.S. special forces killed the world’s most wanted man in Pakistan.
Pakistan deported the family this week, ending months of speculation about the fate of his wives and children who were detained by Pakistani security forces after the May 2 raid.
A Saudi official was quoted by the state Saudi Press Agency (SPA) as saying the family arrived in the kingdom on Thursday.
“Travel arrangements of Osama bin Laden’s family were facilitated based on the request of Bin Laden’s family in Saudi Arabia,” the official said.
“Saudi Arabia dealt with the matter on a humanitarian, legal and administrative basis,” said the report.
A Pakistani court sentenced the women to 45 days in prison this month for entering Pakistan illegally and ordered their deportation after the end of the prison term, which began on March 3 when they were formally arrested.
The Saudi report did not say how many family members had arrived in Jeddah but previous reports suggested that three widows, seven children and four grandchildren had been deported.
Their movements are followed closely by security officials because once outside Pakistan, they could shed some light on how the al Qaeda leader managed to hide inside Pakistan for so long.
SPA quoted the Saudi official as saying however that “it was not appropriate to intrude on the privacy of the bin Laden family in the kingdom in any way”.
Reporting by Asma Alsharif and Sami Aboudi Editing by Maria Golovnina