Saudi teen flying to Canada, Justin Trudeau says ‘pleased’ to offer asylum

Saudi teen flying to Canada, Justin Trudeau says ‘pleased’ to offer asylum

A Saudi woman who fled to Thailand saying she feared her family would kill her has been granted asylum in Canada and is travelling there on Friday, the Thai immigration chief told Reuters.

"She chose Canada. Canada said it will accept her", Thai immigration chief Surachate Hakparn told reporters at Bangkok's main airport.

After the arrests, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, tweeted "Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this hard time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi".

Under Saudi Arabia's "male guardianship system", a Saudi woman is required to obtain a male relative's approval to apply for a passport, travel outside the country, study overseas on a government scholarship, get married, leave prison, or even exit a shelter for abuse victims.

Al-Qunun's case has raised the state of women's rights in Saudi Arabia, where several women have been caught trying to seek asylum after fleeing their homes.

Alqunun had been on vacation with her family in Kuwait earlier this month when she ran away and took a flight to Bangkok, NPR reports.

Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch said Ms Qunun had renounced Islam, which puts her at "serious risk" of prosecution in Saudi Arabia.

Ms Alqunun later tweeted the video of that meeting and wrote that her "Twitter account has changed the game against what he wished for me".

On Thursday, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne visited senior Thai officials in Bangkok to also raise concerns about Hakeem al-Araibi, a 25-year-old former member of Bahrain's national soccer team, detained in Thailand. She was admitted to Thailand on Monday while the United Nations processed her request.

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"I'm not leaving my room until I see UNHCR [the United Nations refugee agency]", she said in a video statement.

"The UNHCR has referred Ms Rahaf Mohammed Al-Ms Qunun to Australia for consideration for refugee resettlement", Australia's Department of Home Affairs confirmed in a statement. Then, Canada levelled sanctions against many Saudis believed to be involved in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and is said to be considering pulling out of the deal to sell light-armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun began tweeting from Bangkok's airport, and a campaign sprang up on Twitter prompting the Thai government to reverse a decision to force the young woman to go back to her family.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun's attempt to flee the ultra-conservative kingdom has been embraced by rights groups as a beacon of defiance against repression.

On Wednesday, Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Stefano Maron told CNN that Canada is very concerned by, and is closely watching, Qunun's case.

There was "no possibility" that al-Qunun would return to Australia with her yesterday, said Payne, who declined to speculate on a timeframe for giving the Saudi teen asylum if she were granted refugee status.

'They don't know about my life and they don't know how my family treats me, ' she said.

Despite having harnessed the power of Twitter to stave off deportation on Friday, she abruptly suspended her account, with friends saying she had received death threats.

Araibi's case is being considered by Thailand's justice system, she said.

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