Trudeau confirms Saudi asylum seeker coming to Canada

Trudeau confirms Saudi asylum seeker coming to Canada

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun has boarded a plane in Bangkok and was expected to fly to Canada, Thai immigration police told The Associated Press on Friday. "I think there are many cases like this that go unreported".

The Saudi embassy in Bangkok said it "did not demand her deportation" and that the case is "a family affair".

Qunun will have to wait in Thailand until Australia has considered the UNHCR's referral for refugee resettlement.

"We should still offer Rahaf a visa so she has the choice to come here if she wants".

The Saudi teen had meant to seek sanctuary in Australia and even went to the Australian embassy in Bangkok on Wednesday to complete a visa application.

"Rahaf temporarily suspended her #Twitter account because she has been receiving some very nasty, very real death threats".

Her case has drawn attention to Saudi Arabia's strict social rules, including a requirement that women have the permission of a male "guardian" to travel, which rights groups say can trap women and girls as prisoners of abusive families.

The move could further upset Saudi-Canada relations.

In an email around midday EST, a spokesman for Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland's office would not confirm whether Canada had granted Qunun asylum, nor whether she was en route to the country.

Confined to an airport transit hotel, Alqunun conducted an online appeal for help, garnering tens of thousands of followers on Twitter and enough public and diplomatic support to convince Thai officials to admit her temporarily under the protection of United Nations officials.

But armed with a smartphone and hastily opened Twitter account, she forced a U-turn from Thai immigration police who handed her into the care of the UN's refugee agency as the #SaveRahaf hashtag bounced across the world.

The attention prompted Thai immigration authorities to reverse their earlier decision to send her back to Saudi Arabia.

Alqunun's appeal for refugee status also underscored the severe restrictions that women in Saudi Arabia face.

The Saudi woman who fled to Thailand has been permitted asylum in Canada.

Thailand police met with her father and said he denies these claims.

Standing with Alqunun by her side at Toronto's airport Saturday, Freeland said: "This a very fearless new Canadian".

Canadian diplomats in the Thai capital were seized with her plight immediately, and though Alqunun originally said she wanted to reach Australia, it became clear in the past week that Canada represented her quickest path to freedom.

On Friday afternoon she posted a final cryptic tweet on her profile saying "I have some good news and some bad news" - shortly after her account was deactivated. Before that, Canada and Saudi Arabia were engaged in a diplomatic spat over a federal government tweet criticizing a Saudi civil rights crackdown, prompting the kingdom to expel Canada's ambassador and ordering their citizens studying in Canada to leave.

"He has 10 children".

According to Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch (HRW), which has lobbied for al-Qunun to be resettled, that outcome is unlikely.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Thursday she raised her concerns over his continued detention with Thai authorities during a visit to Bangkok this week.

Thailand has also faced criticism for detaining former national soccer player Hakeem Al-Araibi on the request of Bahrain, despite being granted refugee status by Australia in 2017.

"We will always stand up for human rights and women's rights around the world".

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