Canada grants asylum to Saudi teen fleeing alleged abuse

Rahaf Mohammed al Qunun chats with Thai Immigration Police Chief Surachet Hakparn and an unidentified UNHCR officer at the Suvarnabhumi international airport

The UN agency thanked both governments for their quick response and specifically thanked Canada for accepting al-Qunun and arranging her travel.

Canada's decision to grant her asylum could further upset the country's relations with Saudi Arabia.

Thailand, which initially had threatened to deport her back to Saudi Arabia, said she was seen off by Canada's ambassador.

Australian officials have strongly hinted that Ms Qunun's request will be accepted.

"Refugee protection today is often under threat and can not always be assured, but in this instance worldwide refugee law and overriding values of humanity have prevailed".

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, at right, walks with an unidentified woman Friday in Bangkok. She was sent to a hotel room and told she would be put on a Monday morning flight to Kuwait.

The top Australian diplomat was expected to meet with Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister Prajin Juntong and hold a bilateral meeting with her Thai counterpart, Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, to discuss Qunun's case.

A Saudi envoy in Bangkok denied any official Saudi involvement in Ms Qunun's detention.

Alqunun arrived in Bangkok from Kuwait late Saturday, but was stopped from proceeding to her planned destination of Australia. Human rights activists say many more similar cases will have gone unreported. It said her case had inspired millions and should remind people of the bravery and sacrifices of people who flee their native lands for safety.

Australia had said on Wednesday that it was considering taking in Qunun.

"Canada has granted her asylum", the Thai official told Reuters. Police denied her entry and seized her passport, while her brother and father travelled to Thailand to take her back to Saudi Arabia.

Alqunun had previously said on Twitter that she wanted to seek refuge in Australia.

It wasn't immediately clear what prompted Alqunon to choose Canada over Australia.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton also said there would be no "special treatment" in the case.

Online protest is a tactic long championed by women in Saudi Arabia.

Ms Qunun told the BBC: "I shared my story and my pictures on social media and my father is so angry because I did this".

Hakparn said that when she departed, she had a "smiling face". Dina Ali Lasloom ran away from her family after she was abused.

Sophie McNeill, a reporter with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation who has had exclusive access to al-Qunun, said Friday that al-Qunun shut down her Twitter account, but is "safe and fine". Her friends said she had suffered abuse at their hands.

Has anything like this happened before?

Alqunun hid in a transit lounge hotel room and began tweeting in Arabic about her plight.

Rahaf is an inspiration.

Australia is one of the few countries in the world that will resettle refugees who are already outside their home country, but this is extremely rare.

What we are going through is bad.

"We should still offer Rahaf a visa so she has the choice to come here if she wants". We don't know what freedom tastes like.

Unfortunately it's not a revolution.

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