Thai, Saudi officials meet over case of young Saudi woman seeking asylum

Teen Locks Herself in Room After Fleeing Allegedly Abusive Family

She planned to seek asylum in Australia and expressed fears that she would be killed if she were sent back to Saudi Arabia by Thai Immigration officials who had detained her at the airport.

Earlier Wednesday, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says there will be no "special treatment" in the case of an 18-year-old Saudi woman's desperate plea for asylum in Australia. Her friends said on Tuesday that Australia had cancelled the tourist visa she was travelling on.

Alqunun's father and brother arrived in Bangkok on Tuesday evening and have asked to see her, but Alqunun has refused to meet them.

In Saudi Arabia, she would not be able to travel overseas without the permission of a male guardian, so Qanun took the opportunity during a family visit to Kuwait and boarded a flight to Bangkok with the intention of reaching Australia.

"The decision to meet with the family is ultimately Ms. Al Qunun's and the responsibility for her safety and physical protection lies with the Thai authorities", UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch told NPR.

Its latest statement, which described Qunun's case as a "family affair", said Saudi Arabia did not demand her deportation back home.

"We have no idea what he is going to do", he said. Spread by a loose network of activists around the world, within 36 hours it prompted Thailand's government to reverse a decision to force the young woman onto a plane that would return her to her family.

Al-Qunun then barricaded herself inside an airport's hotel room, refusing to come out until she was granted a meeting with United Nations officials.

Now her dad has arrived in Bangkok with the wish to "talk to her", Thailand's immigration chief said today. She was planning to seek asylum in Australia but was intercepted at an airport transit zone in Bangkok.

She barricaded herself inside a Bangkok airport hotel but left the airport on January 7 after speaking to the United Nations refugee agency.

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Rahaf said she had been suffering beatings and emotional abuse from her family members according to media reports. People who convert to another religion from Islam risk being charged with apostasy - or abandoning their religious beliefs, which is legally punishable by death.

Many asylum seekers are refused entry and quietly deported, while those who make it into Thailand can wait years to be resettled to third countries or find themselves in prolonged detention.

"She does not have a return reservation or a tourist program, which requires deportation by the Thai authorities", it said.

The Department for Home Affairs said it was "pleased" at the developments and had made representations to the Thai government about its "serious concerns on this matter and the need for Alqunun's claim to be assessed expeditiously". She's accused her family abusing of psychologically and physically abusing her.

"She has violated Saudi laws in seeking to travel without the permission of her male guardian and has now further violated a number of laws and outraged the regime".

Thai immigration chief Surachate Hakparn conceded that Twitter can "attract the interest of the global community" but denied authorities were swayed by Rahaf's social media barrage. Senator Sarah Hanson-Young had earlier urged the prime minister to issue emergency travel documents for the Saudi woman and admit her into the country.

The immigration police released photos of Surachate and his team sitting down with Saudi embassy charge d'affaires Abdalelah Mohammed Alsheaiby.

Saudi Arabia's embassy in Thailand on January 8 denied reports that Saudi Arabia had requested her extradition, according to Reuters. Surachet said that during his meeting with the Riyadh diplomat, both sides agreed that it was a family matter and both the family and the girl should meet to settle the conflict.

The comments sparked anger on social media.

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