ISLAMABAD, Apr 20 – The deportation of Osama bin Laden’s family from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia will take at least a few more days and is being discussed between the two countries, their lawyer said on Friday.
The 9/11 mastermind’s three widows, their eight children and a grandchild were held by Pakistan authorities after bin Laden was killed in a US special forces operation in the town of Abbottabad, north of Islamabad, last May.
The 12 were originally supposed to be deported this week but it was delayed because legal formalities were not complete.
“It will take some more days to complete the deportation process,” Atif Ali Khan, the lawyer for bin Laden’s widows, told AFP. “We are still waiting for news from the authorities.
“I don’t want to talk about weeks but we hope that it will be over in a few days.”
Deputy interior minister Imtiaz Safdar Warraich told AFP on Wednesday that “the required documents are being prepared and it is being done swiftly. It is not just an issue of deportation, but also there is an issue of acceptance”.
Earlier this month, a court sentenced the three women and two of bin Laden’s older daughters to 45 days’ detention on charges of illegal entry and residency in Pakistan, and ordered their deportation as soon as possible.
They completed the sentence on Tuesday, counting time already served since they were formally arrested on March 3.
Pakistani analyst Talat Masood said the delay may be in part because countries are worried about creating problems for themselves by accepting the family.
“Then maybe there are certain secrets with them that the government of Pakistan may find embarrassing. So I think these two factors prevent them from moving easily,” Masood told AFP.
After fleeing Afghanistan following the 2001 attacks on Washington and New York, bin Laden moved his family around Pakistan before settling in a three-storey house inside a compound in the garrison town of Abbottabad in 2005.
His discovery on Pakistani soil dealt a huge blow to US-Pakistan relations and led to accusations of Pakistani complicity or incompetence.