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Homeland Security

US Officials: Pakistan to Grant Access to Bin Laden's Wives

VOA News May 10, 2011

A U.S. official says Pakistan will soon allow American investigators to question the three wives of Osama bin Laden who were with the al-Qaida leader when he was killed in Pakistan last week.

The women have been in Pakistani custody since the May 2 raid by U.S. commandos. U.S. officials say the interviews, as well as evidence taken from bin Laden's hideout in Abbottabad, could provide important details about the al-Qaida network.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday it has yet to receive a formal request from the United States for access to bin Laden's relatives.

U.S. officials are also saying the Central Intelligence Agency does not intend to remove its undercover station chief in Islamabad, after Pakistani media reported last week what they said was the operative's name.

Officials have said the name was inaccurate, but they believe it was intentionally leaked following questions about how bin Laden lived in Pakistan for years without the knowledge of the country's military or intelligence service.

The officials say the station chief played a key role in overseeing the efforts that led to the raid on bin Laden's compound. The previous CIA station chief left Pakistan in December after being identified by Pakistani media.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Monday said it was "disingenuous" for anyone to insinuate that Pakistani authorities, including the country's spy agency, were aligned with al-Qaida. In a speech to parliament, Gilani voiced support for the spy agency and the country's military, and said bin Laden's death was proper justice.

The Pakistani leader ordered an investigation into how bin Laden was able to live in Pakistan undetected.

U.S. officials say that during the May 2 raid in Abbottabad, the U.S. military was prepared for a confrontation with Pakistani troops, and brought two extra helicopters into the country. There was no confrontation, but one of the backup helicopters did fly to bin Laden's compound after a helicopter initially involved in the raid was disabled following a hard landing.

Prime Minister Gilani on Monday criticized the U.S. operation, warning such unilateral actions on Pakistani soil run the risk of "serious consequences."

On Tuesday, a spokesman for former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf denied media reports that Musharraf years ago struck a deal with the United States allowing U.S. forces to conduct operations on Pakistani soil if bin Laden was found to be hiding out there.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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