World

Saudis may let exiled bin Ladens stay

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Saudi Arabia has no evidence that Osama bin Laden’s widows and family members deported from Pakistan have been involved in terrorism, an official Saudi statement said Sunday in an indication that authorities will allow the group to remain in the kingdom.

The statement also provided more details of the secrecy-shrouded arrival of the late Al Qaeda leader’s family, saying they were met in the Red Sea city of Jiddah by other members of bin Laden’s extended clan. Pakistan said the 14-member group, including three of bin Laden’s widows and their children, were deported Friday after weeks of negotiations.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency, citing an “official source,’’ said there “is no information or evidence of the family’s involvement or participation in any criminal or illegal acts.’’ It added that the deportations were handled on “humanitarian, legal, and religious’’ grounds, further suggesting the kingdom would allow the group to remain. One of the widows is Yemeni and the other two are Saudi citizens.

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On Friday, relatives of bin Laden’s Yemeni widow said she had received assurances from Saudi officials that she and her five children could remain in the kingdom.

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Bin Laden was killed in a raid on his compound in Pakistan by US Navy SEALs on May 2, 2011

His widows were interrogated by Pakistani intelligence agents and convicted of illegally entering and living in the country. Their 45-day prison term ended earlier this month.