Australian minister hints Saudi teen likely to get asylum

Teen Locks Herself in Room After Fleeing Allegedly Abusive Family

Instead, she was given back her passport and allowed to enter Thailand temporarily under the protection of the United Nations refugee agency, which was expected to take about five to seven days to study her case and her claim for asylum.

The 18-year-old Saudi Arabian woman is hoping to seek asylum overseas and barricaded herself inside a hotel in Bangkok to prevent being expelled by Thai authorities.

By early Sunday afternoon, Mr Robertson had notified the United Nations refugee agency in Thailand and several foreign embassies about the unfolding case, and they began to contact Thai authorities.

The UNHCR in Bangkok has been contacted for comment but has yet to respond.

"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.

Al-Qunun alleged several times that Saudi officials were involved in seizing her passport.

A Saudi woman's ongoing bid to flee her country via Thailand this week threw the kingdom's male guardianship system into the global limelight, setting in motion a showdown between Saudi Arabia's restrictions on women and the United Nations' asylum process. "She didn't get that [social media] support and that's why she's in Saudi Arabia now - she's disappeared", Alharbi said.

The agency said in a statement that it required five days to process the girl's request.

"The father is now here in Thailand and that's a source of concern".

The department said it will "consider this referral in the usual way, as it does with all UNHCR referrals". Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said on Twitter.

In case she wished to apply for a visa on arrival to enter Thailand, al-Qunun should prove she had an onward flight, the general said. If the agency refers someone, "Canada selects foreign nationals for resettlement who have no reasonable prospect of finding another durable solution", she added.

He said Qunun's father and brother were due to arrive soon in Bangkok, but it was her decision whether to meet with them.

He said the Thai government "needs to explain why diplomats from Saudi Arabia are allowed to walk in closed areas of the Bangkok airport, seizing one of their citizen's passports".

But while she was in the air, her influential father had alerted Saudi authorities who in turn pressured Thai authorities at Bangkok airport to seize her passport and deny her access to her connecting flight to Sydney on Saturday.

But she has said Saudi officials tried to trick her and surrounded the hotel room she had barricaded herself in, planning to force her back home, where she believes her family would try to kill her.

While Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been steadily easing restrictions on women, notably granting them the right to open their own businesses and to drive cars, the guardianship system remains in place and authorities remain sensitive to social codes.

Rahaf Al-Qunun is a young Saudi woman studying at a local university traveled to Thailand via Kuwait in an attempt to seek asylum in Australia.

Footage released by Thai immigration shows Abdulilah al-Shouaibi, Saudi embassy charge d'affaires in Bangkok, complaining in a meeting yesterday with Mr Surachate that Ms Qunun's phone should have been confiscated.

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