Bin Laden's son calls on Iran to free his siblings
Associated Press / Sarah El-Deeb

CAIRO — One of Osama bin Laden's sons has called on Iran's supreme leader to release members of his family believed to be under house arrest there since they fled Afghanistan in 2001, according to a letter posted Monday on the Internet.

Khalid bin Laden's statement accused Iranian authorities of mistreating about 30 siblings, saying they had been "beaten and repressed."

The letter, which was dated early January, appeared to have been written shortly after news reports surfaced about of one his sisters who escaped from her Iranian guards and reportedly is taking refuge in the Saudi Embassy in Tehran.

It has long been believed that Iran has in custody a number of bin Laden's children who fled Afghanistan in 2001 following the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the U.S., most notably his sons, Saad and Hamza, who were thought to have held positions in al-Qaida.

But Iran never confirmed it, and claimed to have been surprised to discover 17-year-old Eman was at the Saudi Embassy.

Little is known about Khalid bin Laden, who is said to be in his 20s and believed to have been with his father in Afghanistan until 2001. The letter identified him as Sheik Khalid, a reference to a holder of an esteemed religious position.

Iranian officials have said they knew bin Laden's daughter was at the Saudi Embassy but denied knowledge of how she got to Iran or when. Tehran also has never confirmed it was holding other members of the bin Laden family.

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