Bin Laden family is deported

Pakistani authorities deported Osama bin Laden's three widows and his children to Saudi Arabia early today, less than a week before the first anniversary of the American raid that killed the al-Qa'ida leader in his hideout.

The departure of the family closed another chapter in an affair that cemented Pakistan's reputation as a hub of Islamist extremism.

Once outside Pakistan, the wives may be willing to share any information they have about how bin Laden managed to evade capture for nearly a decade following the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US.

The US commandos took bin Laden's body, which they later buried at sea. The wives and children were detained by Pakistani authorities after the raid on 2 May 2011.

Two of the widows are from Saudi Arabia, and the third is from Yemen.

They were interrogated by Pakistani agents and eventually charged last month with illegally entering and living in the country. The three wives and two adult daughters were sentenced to 45 days under guard in Islamabad, which ended this month.

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.