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Thai police: Saudi asylum seeker is flying to Canada

AP  |  Bangkok 

A Saudi asylum seeker who fled alleged abuse by her family is leaving on Friday and will fly to Canada, Thailand's said.

said the 18-year-old woman, Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, would leave late Friday evening. He gave no other details.

He earlier said several countries including and were in talks with on accepting Alqunun.

A for Canada's said he could not confirm she was coming to

Alqunun's case has highlighted the cause of women's rights in 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.

Alqunun was stopped last Saturday at a airport by immigration police who denied her entry and seized her passport.

She barricaded herself in an airport hotel room and launched a that drew global attention to her case. It garnered enough public and diplomatic support to convince Thai officials to admit her temporarily under the protection of U.N. officials, who granted her refugee status on Wednesday.

If is taking Alqunun, it could further upset Saudi-Canada relations. In August, expelled Canada's to the kingdom and withdrew its own after Canada's foreign ministry tweeted support for the arrests of women's right activists. The Saudis also sold Canadian investments and ordered their citizens studying in Canada to leave.

Alqunun had previously said on that she wished to seek refuge in Australian met with senior Thai officials in on Thursday. She later told reporters that was assessing Alqunun's request for resettlement.

Payne said she also raised Australia's concerns with Thai officials about Hakeem al-Araibi, a 25-year-old former member of Bahrain's national soccer team who was granted refugee status in Australia in 2017 after fleeing his homeland, where he said he was persecuted and tortured.

He was arrested while on holiday in last November due to an notice in which sought his custody after he was sentenced in absentia in 2014 to 10 years in prison for allegedly vandalizing a police station a charge he denies. is seeking his extradition.

Al-Araibi's case is being considered by Thailand's justice system, she said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, January 11 2019. 21:50 IST