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Thai authorities will not deport Saudi teen seeking asylum in Australia

Thai authorities will not deport Saudi teen seeking asylum in Australia

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qanun arrived at Bangkok's main airport on a flight from Kuwait after running away from her family, who she alleges subjected her to physical and psychological abuse.

Earlier on Monday, Thai officials admitted having contact with the Saudi embassy before her arrival, after previously denying it.

Images released by Thai immigration police show Ms Alqunun leaving her room at a Bangkok airport hotel where she barricaded herself inside amid fears for her safety....

Hakpal, the immigration official, told CNN that al-Qunun had been refused entry into the country because she did not present "any necessary document".

The asylum claim of a young Saudi woman who resisted deportation from Thailand in a gripping, live-tweeted ordeal will take "several days" to assess, the UN's refugee agency in Bangkok said Tuesday.

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She claimed she fled Saudi Arabia amid fears her family would kill her for renouncing Islam.

Thai immigration officials initally planned to put Qunun on a flight back to Kuwait on Monday, but decided against her after her online pleas drew worldwide attention.

Surachate Hakparn, the chief of immigration police, told reporters: "The flight this morning was via Kuwait Airlines to send her back to Saudi Arabia".

Initially, Thai authorities said Qanun would be sent back to Saudi Arabia. She had been planning an escape during a family trip to India, but her brother had become suspicious and threatened to go with her and her sister and "wouldn't let (us) out at all.and tie (us) up".

He said he would talk to the United Nations refugee agency about the potential of a meeting between the family members. However, a friend of Al-Qunun told The Guardian that she is an "ex-Muslim and has a very strict family".




Alqunun had stayed in the room while sending out desperate pleas for help over social media.

But that did not stop Surachate himself from responding to the case on the platform, at one point writing on his official account that "we stand for humanity". We've been pressing the United Nations to get in there. "My life is in danger".

Human rights lawyer Nadthasiri Bergman said she filed an injunction earlier yesterday to prevent Ms Rahaf's deportation. Khashoggi, who wrote critically of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in columns for The Washington Post, had been living in self-imposed exile before he was killed and dismembered inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul by Saudi agents.

Saudi Arabia's parlous rights record has been under heavy scrutiny since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi previous year.

Some Saudi female runaways fleeing abuse by their families have been caught trying to seek asylum overseas in recent years.

Surachate also said if Thai authorities decide not to send her back to Saudi Arabia, they would have to provide their reasons to Saudi authorities in order not to not affect the countries' relations.

In 2017, Dina Ali Lasloom triggered a firestorm online when she was stopped en route to Australia, where she planned to seek asylum.

"She's desperately fearful of her family, including her father who is a senior government official, and given Saudi Arabia's long track record of looking the other way in so-called honor violence incidents, her worry that she could be killed if returned cannot be discounted".

Human Rights Watch has called on the Australian government to allow Alqunun's entry into that country. If the UNHCR declared her a refugee, Alqunun said she would like to be granted a humanitarian visa in Australia, Britain or Canada.

"Whether someone holds a visitor visa does not have a bearing on this process".

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