10 Nov 2008

Officials silent on bin Laden report

2:21 pm on 10 November 2008

The Immigration Department will not comment on a report that a son of Osama bin Laden wants to come to New Zealand.

Omar Bin Laden, 27, has been deported from Egypt and Spain after failing to obtain asylum there.

He is one of 19 sons of the al Qaeda leader and has said he does not share his father's views and has not seen him since 2000.

His British wife, Zaina Alsabah Bin Laden (formerly Jane Felix-Browne, 52), said their condemnation of al Qaeda has put their lives in danger in the Middle East.

On Saturday, she said they had been trying to raise money to fly to New Zealand instead of returning to Egypt.

The couple are barred from re-entering Egypt, where they have lived for the past year. It was not known why Egypt denied them entry.

NZ view

The Immigration Department says Saudi Arabian and British nationals do not require a visa to enter New Zealand.

But it says people wishing to travel to New Zealand under the visa-free arrangements may be prevented from boarding an aircraft if they do not satisfy New Zealand's border security measures.

However, immigration specialist Aussie Malcolm says he doubts Omar bin Laden will be allowed to visit New Zealand.

He says the couple would have to show there was a good reason not to return to their home country and there is no risk of their overstaying or applying for residency.