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Bin Laden son loses asylum plea

  • Story Highlights
  • Official: Spain denies asylum to Omar bin Laden
  • Spain did not give a reason for turning down the asylum appeal
  • He has publicly called on his father to abandon terrorism
  • He was previously denied asylum in Britain
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MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- One of Osama bin Laden's sons has been denied asylum in Spain, an Interior Ministry spokeswoman told CNN on Wednesday.

Omar bin Laden

Omar bin Laden pictured earlier this year during a television interview in Rome, Italy.

Omar bin Laden, who is in his late 20s, stepped off a plane at Madrid's Barajas International Airport during a stopover late Monday and informed authorities that he planned to request political asylum, the spokeswoman said.

Bin Laden has publicly called on his father to abandon terrorism.

He prepared his formal asylum request Tuesday at the airport with the help of a translator, filing it around 1 p.m., the spokeswoman said.

The Interior Ministry, which had 72 hours to reply to the request, was required to seek the opinion of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees on the matter. The UNHCR recommended against granting asylum, the spokeswoman said Wednesday.

No reason was given for the denial.

It was not immediately known what grounds bin Laden gave for his request, and the spokeswoman said it is unlikely to be disclosed.

His flight Monday originated in Cairo, Egypt, and landed in Madrid on its way to Casablanca, Morocco, she said. The request caught Spanish authorities by surprise, she said.

Bin Laden, who is married to a British citizen, previously was denied asylum in Britain. He holds a Saudi passport.

Since Spain has denied his request, bin Laden has 24 hours to appeal before he is put on a plane back to Cairo, the spokeswoman said. If he appeals, the Spanish government has 48 hours to rule on it.

Last year, 7,664 people requested asylum in Spain. The government granted that status to only 570, the spokeswoman said.

Al Goodman, CNN's Madrid bureau chief, contributed to this report

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