Pakistan deports bin Laden family
Friday 27 Apr 2012 8:46 a.m.
A vehicle carrying the family members of Osama Bin Laden leave for the airport (Reuters)
Pakistani authorities deported Osama bin Laden's three widows and his children to Saudi Arabia early Friday, less than a week before the first anniversary of the unilateral American raid that killed the al-Qaida leader in his hideout in a military town.
The departure of the family closes another chapter in an affair that cemented Pakistan's reputation as a hub of Islamist extremism and raised questions over its trustworthiness as a Western ally. In February, authorities bulldozed the large compound where bin Laden had lived in the northwestern town of Abbottabad.
The US commandos took bin Laden's body, which they later buried at sea, but left his family behind. His wives and children were detained by Pakistani authorities immediately after the pre-dawn raid on May 2, 2011.
Two of the widows are from Saudi Arabia, and the third is from Yemen.
They were interrogated by Pakistani intelligence agents and eventually charged last month with illegally entering and living in the country. The three wives were convicted on April 2 and sentenced to 45 days in prison. Their prison term, which was spent at a well-guarded house in Islamabad, ended earlier this month.
Soon after midnight Thursday, a van took the women and children from the house in the center of the capital, Islamabad, en route to the airport. Officials covered the vehicle with sheets to prevent photographers from taking their pictures.
A statement from the Interior Ministry said 14 members of the bin Laden family had been deported to the "country of their choice, Saudi Arabia". Few details have been released about the family, but officials have said bin Laden had three wives, at least eight children and some grandchildren living with him in the house when it was raided by the Americans.