Iran seeks to resolve immigration status of bin Laden daughter
Iran will deal with the case of a daughter of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden who has been trying to leave the country from a humanitarian angle, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Tuesday, DPA reported.
Iman bin Laden is at the Saudi embassy in Tehran and wants to leave Iran, but Iran's government has demanded legal documents from Saudi Arabia to identify her and clarify how she entered Iran.
Mehmanparast said that as soon as that process was finished, Tehran would look at the issue from a humanitarian angle, which some observers interpreted as indicating that she would face no legal actions for having illegally entered Iran.
The Saudi-owned regional newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat reported Sunday that the Saudi and Iranian governments were in talks to allow Osama bin Laden's daughter to leave Iran.
"We consider this issue to be a strictly humanitarian one, and we are in negotiations with the Iranian government to deal with it on this level and to leave open the option of departure for [Iman bin Laden]," the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, told the daily, which had said last week that Iman bin Laden had been held at the embassy for three weeks, unable to leave.
"We do not wish to enter into political issues in relation to this case because I do not want to complicate matters and potentially delay Iman's departure from Tehran," al-Faisal said.
His statements were the first official public mention of the case from the Saudi government.
The newspaper said she had spoken with her brother Abdullah in Saudi Arabia and had said that she and five of her brothers along with one of their father's wives, identified only as Umm Hamza, had been held in Iran since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
Mehmanparast said last week that the Saudi embassy had yet to make any effort to confirm the identity of the person claimed to be Osama bin Laden's daughter.
The bin Laden family told al-Sharq al-Awsat that it has had no news of the whereabouts of their missing relatives since late 2001 when they were believed to have been in Afghanistan.