Canada grants asylum to Saudi runaway teen fleeing allegedly abusive family: Police

BANGKOK — Thailand’s immigration police chief says a Saudi woman who fled alleged abuse by her family will leave Bangkok for Canada.

Police Chief Surachate Hakparn says the 18-year-old woman, Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, is leaving on a flight late Friday evening. He gave no other details.

He earlier said that several countries including Canada and Australia were in talks with the U.N. refugee agency on accepting Alqunun.

Alqunun was on her way to Australia last Saturday but was stopped at a Bangkok airport by immigration police who seized her passport.

She barricaded herself in an airport hotel room and launched a social media campaign that drew global attention to her case. Thai officials agreed to admit her temporarily under the protection of U.N. officials, who granted her refugee status on Wednesday.

Alqunun’s case has highlighted the cause of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. Several female Saudis fleeing abuse by their families have been caught trying to seek asylum abroad in recent years and returned home. Human rights activists say many similar cases have gone unreported.

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