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Guru's ex-secretary to be extradited to U.S.

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The West German Ministry of Foreign Affairs approved the extradition of Ma Anand Sheela and two other former top followers of guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh to the United States, state and federal officials said.

U.S. Attorney for Oregon Charles Turner and Oregon Attorney General Dave Frohnmayer said Friday the German decision clears the way for the trio's return to Oregon within 30 days.

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Sheela, 36, an Indian native also known as Sheela Ambalal Patel or Sheela Silverman, has been held in a West German prison since her arrest Oct. 28 in Hausern, a West German ski resort near Zurich, Switzerland.

Arrested with her were two close associates, Ma Anand Puja, 38, a Philippines-born nurse practitioner also known as Diane Ivonne Onang, and Ma Shanti Bhadra, 40, an Australian also known as Catherine Jane Paul Elsea.

They were jailed on West German warrants based on Wasco County indictments charging the women with attempted murder, first-degree assault and conspiracy to commit murder in connection with an alleged poison-syringe attack July 6 on guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh's personal physician.

Sheela had served as personal secretary to the Indian guru during most of his 4-year stay at the Rajneeeshpuram commune.

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She and the other women fled the commune in September and the guru accused 'Sheela and her gang' of a variety of crimes, including wiretapping and attempted murder.

Rajneesh's physician, Swami Devaraj, left the United States with Rajneesh last Nov. 14 after the 54-year-old guru pleaded guilty to federal immigration fraud charges and was ordered out of the country. His departure has led to the disbanding of the commune.

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