ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Osama bin Laden's three widows have been charged with illegally entering and living in the country, Pakistan's interior minister said on Thursday.
The three have been in detention in Pakistan since May last year, when U.S. commandos raided the house where they, bin Laden and several children were staying.
The commandos killed the al-Qaida leader in a secret raid in the garrison town of Abbottabad in May last year after a decade-long manhunt.
"They (the wives) were presented before the court. After that, they are on judicial remand, and are being kept in a proper, legal manner," Minister Rehman Malik told reporters.
"Cases have been registered against the adults, not the children."
Two of the wives are Saudi nationals, and one is from Yemen, according to the Pakistani foreign ministry. The women, along with several children, were living in Pakistan without a visa.
Pakistan had previously said that it would repatriate the women to their home countries after a government commission probing the bin Laden raid had completed its questioning.
But NBC News reported that the interior ministry had encountered problems repatriating the women to Saudi Arabia and Yemen because they did not have passports or any other documentation.Slideshow: After the raid: Inside bin Laden's compound (on this page)
According to the BBC, Malik said the children were free to return to their native countries if their mothers agreed.
Possible punishments unclear
Malik did not specify which court was dealing with the case, or where the women or children were being held. They will have to stand trial, but it was not clear what punishment they faced if convicted.
Malik did not say when they were charged.
The commission has interviewed the family members for clues about how the al-Qaida chief managed to stay in the country undetected.
The youngest widow, Amal Ahmed Abdulfattah, told Pakistani investigators in May that bin Laden and his family lived for five years in the compound in Abbottabad where he was killed.
Abdulfattah's brother, Zachariah al Sadah, was in Pakistan trying to secure her and her children's release, NBC News reported.
He has apparently complained to the Pakistani Supreme Court about the detention, saying the wives and children are being kept in two rooms and not allowed outside.Video: Video captures demolition of bin Laden compound (on this page)
The raid on bin Laden's compound plunged the relationship between uneasy allies Pakistan and the United States to their lowest point since Islamabad joined Washington in the global war against militancy.
While the operation was hailed as a success in the United States, Pakistan reacted angrily, terming the raid a gross violation of its sovereignty.
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NBC News, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.