A Saudi spokesman said late on Saturday that his government has no suspicions about relatives of slain 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 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, Osama bin Laden’s widows and children were deported to Saudi Arabia.
The 9/11 mastermind’s three widows and their children were detained by Pakistan after the Bin Laden was killed on May 2 last year in a secret U.S. Navy SEAL operation in the garrison town of Abbottabad, north of Islamabad.
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 on charges of illegal entry and residency in the country and ordered to be deported.
The family members were believed to number 12 – three widows, eight children and one grandchild – though an interior ministry spokesman said orders were passed for the deportation of 14 Bin Laden relatives.
They were originally supposed to be deported after completing their sentence last week but the move dragged on – officially because legal formalities were not complete but amid suggestions the Saudis were reluctant to accept such a notorious group.
Then on Thursday, a Pakistani security official said “some development happened late in the evening” allowing them to be expelled.
The family’s lawyer Atif Ali Khan last week said Bin Laden’s Yemeni widow Amal Abdulfattah and her five children could be sent to Yemen after Saudi Arabia.
Bin Laden’s discovery in Abbottabad dealt a huge blow to U.S.-Pakistan relations and led to accusations of Pakistani complicity or incompetence.
After fleeing Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Bin Laden moved his family around Pakistan before settling in a three-story house inside a walled compound in the garrison town in 2005.