Riyadh Gives up Demand for Extradition of two Saudi Hijackers
Saudi Arabia said Thursday it had given up its demand for the extradition of two of its nationals who hijacked a Saudi plane to Baghdad on October 15 and have since been granted political asylum in Iraq.
"We have not asked for their extradition and we hope they'll live in peace and safety with their brothers in Iraq," Defence Minister Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz told journalists.
According to Prince Sultan, Saudi Arabia was continuing as if the two hijackers, Faisal Naji al-Balawi and Ayesh Ali al-Fridi, "were dead".
Prince Sultan's statements contradicted repeated demands by Riyadh's interior ministry that the two men be extradited so they could be judged in the kingdom.
Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdel Aziz had even said his country would contact Interpol over its extradition request, as Riyadh and Baghdad have not had diplomatic relations since the 1991 Gulf War.
The Boeing 777 flying from Jeddah to London was hijacked to Baghdad. Its passengers were quickly released unharmed at the Saddam International Airport and the hijackers were taken into custody and questioned by Iraqi authorities.
Prince Sultan also said that Riyadh would not request the extradition from the United States of 36-year-old Khalid al-Fawwaz, a Saudi national suspected of having links to alleged terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.
"The kingdom is not concerned with this affair. The man has put himself in a dishonorable situation for a Saudi citizen," he said – RIYADH (AFP)
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