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A letter posted on the Internet says a son of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is calling on Tehran to release members of the bin Laden family said to be detained in Iran.
The letter, allegedly written by Khalid bin Laden, accuses Iranian authorities of imprisoning and beating the bin Laden family members.
The statement was published on the Internet Sunday by the group Global Islamic Media Front, which is linked to al-Qaida. Its content could not be verified.
The al-Qaida chief's son says family members, including women and children, fled Afghanistan after the 2001 U.S.-led invasion and entered Iran through "unofficial means."
The letter says the group was detained by Iranian intelligence agents and has asked repeatedly to leave Iran, only to be "beaten and silenced." Khalid bin Laden urges Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to intervene to secure the group's release.
There has been no response from Tehran.
Iran said in December that a daughter of Osama bin Laden had taken refuge in the Saudi embassy in Tehran, but did not confirm the presence of any other relatives in the country.
The Iranian government said it did not know how the bin Laden daughter entered Iran. Saudi Arabia has asked Iran to let her leave the country as a humanitarian gesture.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.