Saudi Arabia denies requesting extradition of woman in Thailand: embassy

Saudi Arabia denies requesting extradition of woman in Thailand: embassy

Qunun was detained on arrival at Bangkok and denied entry to Thailand while en route to Australia, where she said she meant to seek asylum.

Human Rights Watch earlier called on the Australian government to allow Alqunun's entry into that country, amid worries about her visa status.

Australia's Department of Home Affairs hinted at the possibility of granting Alqunun refugee status, saying it was "pleased" the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was assessing her claim.

Robertson told CBC's As it Happens that the 18-year old was confined to her room for nearly six months.

"What is truly appalling is how the Saudi Arabian government has acted in sending an official to physically seize her passport from her in Bangkok airport worldwide transit", Robertson said.

The teenager then barricaded herself inside her room at an airport hotel, and requested to speak to the United Nations refugee office.

While Ms McNeill boarded a flight from Sydney to Bangkok, Ms Qunun was holed up in an airport transit hotel and afraid she would be forced onto the next flight back to Kuwait.

However, Alqunun said on Twitter that she feared for her life if she would return to Saudi Arabia, where she had originally fled from her family. "We have no idea what he is going to do. whether he will try to find out where she is and go harass her", Robertson said.

Without her family's knowledge, the young Saudi rebel obtained an Australian visa and an airline ticket to Sydney, Australia, where she meant to ask for asylum.

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.

Now her dad has arrived in Bangkok with the wish to "talk to her", Thailand's immigration chief said today.

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.

Before the referral, Health Minister Greg Hunt said Australia would consider giving Alqunun a humanitarian visa if the UNHCR process found her to be a refugee.

Rahaf said she had been suffering beatings and emotional abuse from her family members according to media reports.

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

A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said "the claims made by Ms al-Qunun that she may be harmed if returned to Saudi Arabia are deeply concerning".

At around 5pm on Sunday, she was taken out of her room by Thai officials but later allowed to return.

In October, the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate in Turkey further heightened tensions and put global scrutiny on the country's human rights record. People who convert to another religion from Islam risk being charged with apostasy - or abandoning their religious beliefs, which is legally punishable by death.

Thai Immigration Chief Surachata Hakpan said the two will have to seek permission from the U.N.'s refugee agency before gaining access to Alqunun.

Thailand is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention and provides no legal protection to asylum seekers, although there are more than 100,000 refugees in the country.

Rahaf also accused her family of subjecting her to physical and psychological abuse. However, in repeated statements, including one issued Tuesday, the Saudi Embassy in Bangkok said it was only monitoring her situation.

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