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Khobar bombing suspect may be sent to Saudi Arabia

al.sayegh May 29, 1997
Web posted at: 3:28 p.m. EDT (1928 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. and Canadian officials are considering sending a Saudi suspect accused of participating in the Khobar Towers bombing back to Saudi Arabia instead of bringing him to the United States, CNN has learned.

Returning to Saudi Arabia would mean almost certain death for the suspect, according to U.S., Canadian and Saudi government official sources.

Canadian authorities are on the verge of issuing a final deportation order for Hani al-Sayegh, who is accused of playing a role in the June 1996 bombing that killed 19 U.S. servicemen and injured hundreds of others in Saudi Arabia.


The order could come as early as Thursday, though Canadian and U.S. government sources suggest the political complexity of the decision could delay it.

Previously, officials in both Canada and the United States had indicated the likely destination for al-Sayegh would be the United States, since the FBI wants him to help in the investigation and prosecution of the bombing case.

But this week, al-Sayegh allowed his Canadian attorney to quit the case after a sharp disagreement over strategy. Without an attorney, plea-bargain negotiations between the FBI and the suspect ground to a halt.

Diplomatic sources said Saudi Arabia would be eager to receive al-Sayegh.

That scenario would be an embarrassment to the United States, however, since U.S. investigators would have allowed the suspect to escape prosecution in the United States after he was publicly named by a Canadian court as one of the participants in the bombing.

Correspondent Ralph Begleiter contributed to this report.

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