Blair's Office: No Asylum for Saddam's Family Linked to Human Rights Abuses

Prime Minister Tony Blair (search)'s office on Thursday said Britain would not consider asylum applications from members of Saddam Hussein (search)'s family who may have committed human rights abuses.

Blair's office issued the statement following claims that Saddam's daughters, Raghad and Rana, and wife, Sajida Khairallah Telfah (search), wish to apply for refugee status in Britain.

The deposed leader's cousin, Izzi-Din Mohammed Hassan al-Majid, lives in Britain and says he will help the daughters apply for asylum.

But the prime minister's office appeared to rule out any chance of the women receiving residence permits.

"We will not consider asylum claims from his daughters, wife or any other members of his family who might have been involved in human rights abuses," Blair's spokesman told reporters on condition of anonymity.

The spokesman did not say whether there were allegations that Saddam's daughters or wife were involved in abuses.

However, Home Office Minister Beverley Hughes said that if the women lodged an application for asylum, authorities would have to consider it.

"But what I can say is we certainly are not in the business in any way at all of giving asylum to people who have been in any way connected with a barbarous regime," Hughes told British Broadcasting Corp. radio.

"We are not in the business of giving asylum to members of Saddam Hussein's family."

Al-Majid, who fled Iraq in 1995 and was granted indefinite leave to remain in Britain in October 2000, has said Raghad and Rana wish to live in Leeds in northern England, where he now resides, and hope to send their children to British schools.

Al-Majid went to Iraq in April after Saddam was deposed and returned to Britain on Thursday, according to airport officials quoted by Britain's Press Association.

"I have seen the poor conditions in which these two ladies live," al-Majid was quoted as telling Thursday's edition of The Sun newspaper, referring to Raghad and Rana.

He has said they live with their nine children in a home in Baghdad without electric power.

"I believe the U.K. government will take them in because they (the government) have always been known to protect people and give them asylum," al-Majid said from Jordan.

Al-Majid also is a cousin of the women's late husbands, brothers Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamel and Saddam Kamel, who defected to Jordan in 1995 and announced plans to work to overthrow Saddam.

The two were lured back in February 1996 and ordered killed by Saddam on suspicion of passing information concerning Iraq's weapons programs to Western officials.

The Home Office -- which confirmed that al-Majid is a cousin of Saddam Hussein -- said there was "no evidence" to suggest the former Iraqi leader's daughters would seek asylum in Britain.

The Daily Mail newspaper reported Thursday that Saddam's first wife, Sajida, also wants to claim asylum in Britain.

The paper, citing an unidentified source close to Saddam's family, said Sajida and her daughters considered Britain safer than several Arab countries.

Sajida's sons, Odai and Qusai, were prominent in their father's government.

Saddam's second wife, Samira al-Shabandar, was mother to Saddam's other son, Ali Saddam Hussein. But that son did not assume any official post.

Saddam's third and youngest daughter, Hala, lived with her two sisters in Baghdad for a short time but left with her children for an unknown location, according to al-Majid.

Hala's husband, Gen. Kamal Mustafa Abdallah Sultan al-Tikriti, was No. 10 on the list of 55 most-wanted former officials of the regime. He surrendered to U.S. forces on May 17, the U.S. Central Command said.