Saudi teen runaway due in Toronto after Canada grants her asylum


The Tweet read, '18-year-old Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun fled Saudi Arabia as she said her family would kill her for choosing to leave Islam - do you respect her decision?'

"That is something that we are pleased to do because Canada is a country that understands how important it is to stand up for human rights, to stand up for women's rights around the world, and I can confirm that we have accepted the UN's request".

The UN refugee agency has referred to Australia for consideration for refugee resettlement.

Her story has also put Saudi Arabia's guardianship laws, which restrict many aspects of women's lives, back under global scrutiny.

Her online campaign was so successful that Saudi charge d'affaires Abdalelah Mohammed told Thai officials through a translator: "We wish they had confiscated her phone instead of her passport".

She said she had also raised the case with him of Australian permanent resident Hakeem al-Araibi, who was arrested in Bangkok more than a month ago over an Interpol Red Notice warrant issued by Bahrain - the country he fled as a refugee.

Al-Qunun has told AFP her family subjected her to psychological and physical abuse and would kill her if she returned.

She was later allowed to enter Bangkok on Monday evening by the Thai authorities after a tense 48 hours that saw her refuse to board a flight to Saudi Arabia and barricade herself inside a transit lounge hotel room, while the world watched the drama unfold on social media. She later told reporters that Australia is assessing Alqunun's request for resettlement but there was no specific timeframe.

Despite reports the 18-year-old was heading to Australia, it appears she may be headed to Canada after the UNHCR withdrew its referral, The Australian reported.

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A loose group of activists and friends bolstered Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun's social media campaign using the hashtag #SaveRahaf and were able to successfully stave off deportation.

Thailand Immigration Police chief Lt. Gen. Surachate Hakparn said the father - whose name has not been released - denied physically abusing Alqunun or trying to force her into an arranged marriage, which were among the reasons she gave for her flight.

Her father and brother arrived in Bangkok on Tuesday, but Ms Qunun "refused to see" them, according to Thai Immigration Chief Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn, who has been caught up in the worldwide firestorm since Ms Qunun's arrival.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne speaks to the press at the Australian embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, January 10, 2019.

He said the family's patriarch had met with the UNHCR yesterday morning and will return to "her country" later today. The Canadian ambassador to Saudi was sent home, and relations have worsened since.

She documented her arrival and subsequent detention in Bangkok on her smartphone, creating new Twitter and Periscope accounts where she received a deluge of supportive messages.

He described the man as being a governor in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Qunun deleted her original Twitter account on Friday because she was receiving "very nasty, very real death threats".