Saudi Woman Running Away from Family is Now Under UNHCR Protection

Teen Locks Herself in Room After Fleeing Allegedly Abusive Family

Saudi Arabia on Tuesday denied on its Twitter account that its embassy in Thailand had asked for Ms Qunun to be extradited, although Mr Surachate said the previous day that the embassy had been in contact with Thai immigration before her arrival from Kuwait.

Rahaf Mohammed Mutlaq Alqunun will be subject to Australian checks before she is granted a humanitarian visa, including character and security assessments.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told reporters on Wednesday - before the referral was confirmed - that Australia would consider any referrals from the United Nations but Ms al-Qunun would not receive any "special treatment". Alqunun said she was taken to a transit hotel room in the airport as Thai officials arranged for her to be deported.

Gen. Surachate Hakparn, the young woman's father and brother were due to arrive soon in Bangkok, but it would be Alqunun's decision whether to meet with them.

Thailand's immigration police said during the weekend that Qunun would be sent back to Kuwait on a flight that was departing Monday morning, before allowing her to temporarily stay in the country so the UNHCR could assess her case.

Al-Qunun's plight unfolded on social media, drawing support from around the world, which convinced Thai authorities to back down from sending her back to Saudi Arabia.

But a government source told The Australian the visa had not been revoked.

The Saudi embassy in Bangkok also released a statement on Twitter, saying that Qunun was stopped by Thai authorities for "viol‌ati‌ng the la‌w". "I want asylum", she added in a video uploaded to twitter.

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As public pressure heightened, an Australian minister appeared to go beyond Canberra's initial bureaucratic promise to consider her case if and when United Nations experts judge her fear of mistreatment justified.

Australia will consider giving Ms Qunun a humanitarian visa if the process finds she is a refugee, he said.

A spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees at its Geneva headquarters, Babar Baloch, said Tuesday it's premature to say what will happen next, but that it could take several days for the agency to look into al-Qunun's claims.

However, there has so far been no evidence her life is in actual danger.

A representative from the Australian government said that they are monitoring the case "closely", noting that the claims made by Qunun, "that she may be harmed if returned to Saudi Arabia are deeply concerning." . She was reportedly taken to a detention center in the Saudi capital and little more regarding her location or condition is known.

While such operations often rely on cooperative governments, Saudi authorities have also pursued dissidents in more risky scenarios - most notably Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, sparking a tense public reckoning with Turkish authorities.

Thai immigration officials also said there was no record of an airline ticket onward, which should have allowed her to pass through Bangkok. "If I go back to Saudi Arabia, I will be dead". Once, she said, her family locked her up in a room for half a year because she cut her hair in a style they disliked.

The case has drawn new global 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. In a video clip of the meeting released by Thai immigration police, Alsheaiby is heard telling Thai officials: "From the moment she arrived, she opened a new account and her followers reached nearly 45,000 in a day". "The embassy considers this issue a family matter".

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