(NEW YORK) — The New York Times reported Monday night that Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh will receive medical treatment in New York City for serious injuries he sustained last June during an assassination attempt on his life in Sana.
The decision to allow Saleh into the U.S. could prove problematic for the White House, since he remains the target of pro-democracy protesters who have accused him of ordering hundreds of deaths since a government crackdown earlier in the year.
While the Times quoted an Obama administration source for its information regarding Saleh, White House officials accompanying President Obama in Hawaii have disputed the accuracy of the story.
Deputy Press Secretary Josh Ernest said, “U.S. officials are continuing to consider President Saleh’s request to enter the country for the sole purpose of seeking medical treatment, but initial reports that permission has already been granted are not true.”
On the other hand, allowing the Yemeni leader into the U.S. for medical care, the Times said, could hasten free elections scheduled for next year and possibly end the political upheaval that threatens to further empower al Qaeda, which is already strong in Yemen — if those who are ultimately elected don’t share an agenda with the Islamic militant group.
Meanwhile, activists opposed to the Saleh regime have asserted they would demand the U.S. return their president to Yemen for prosecution if he should be treated by doctors in New York City.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio
Michael Pearson, Faith Karimi and Ian Lee, CNN
Claire Moran, CNN