TEHRAN, Dec 26, 2009 (AFP) - Osama bin Laden's daughter who has taken refuge at the Saudi mission in Tehran is free to leave Iran once her identity is confirmed, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was quoted as saying.
“A while ago the Saudi embassy here said that one of bin Laden's daughters is in the compound, so the foreign ministry told the embassy that based on international conventions if her identity is confirmed she can leave Iran with passage documents,” ISNA quoted Mottaki as telling state television late Thursday. “We were not able to confirm her identity but the embassy says she is” the daughter of bin Laden, he added.
Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat earlier this week quoted Omar bin Laden, the fourth son of the al-Qaeda chief, that one of his siblings, Iman, 17, had recently sought asylum at the Saudi embassy in Tehran.
Fuad Qassas, the Saudi charge d'affairs at the kingdom's embassy in Tehran, confirmed Iman was staying there, according to the newspaper, which said she has been seeking permission to leave Iran, so far without success.
Omar bin Laden also said that five other siblings plus one of his father's wives who had been missing since the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan had been traced to Tehran, where they are living under house arrest.
Omar, who lives in Qatar, said he only learnt his family members were still alive after receiving a call last month from his brother Uthman, who had been secretly given access to a mobile phone by a young Iranian.
British newspaper The Times reported 11 of bin Laden's grandchildren were also living in the high-security compound outside Tehran.
The group fled Afghanistan just before the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and walked to the Iranian border, where they were detained and taken to the walled compound by guards, the Times said.
His relatives are said to be living as normal a life as possible, cooking meals, watching television and reading, but they are allowed out on shopping trips only rarely.
The Times said Iman escaped from the compound during one such trip last month and fled to the Saudi embassy.