Saudi teen Alqunun leaves Thailand for Canada to seek asylum

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A Saudi woman who fled her family claiming fear of her life and used social media to amplify her calls for safe haven was granted asylum to Canada on Friday, an official in Thailand said.

The source, who was not authorized to speak about Canada's role in Qunun's case, said the government would not make any public comment until it was assured that she was safely in the country.

Although her asylum case has moved at lightning speed the final maneuvers that led to her flight to Canada remain a mystery.

The case is the latest in a series highlighting what human rights activists say is the widespread subservient treatment of women in Saudi Arabia.

After the arrests, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, tweeted "Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this hard time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi".

Several Saudi women fleeing abuse by their families have tried to seek asylum overseas in recent years but have been sent back home.

Thailand's immigration police chief, Surachate Hakparn, told reporters the United Nations was accelerating the case, though he gave no indication of when the process would be complete.

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Strict Saudi social rules typically require women to have permission from a male "guardian" to travel.

Ms Alqunun deleted her Twitter account today, with a friend citing death threats for the decision.

Footage released by Thai immigration shows Abdulilah al-Shouaibi, Saudi embassy charge d'affaires in Bangkok, complaining in a meeting Tuesday with Gen Surachate that Ms Qunun's smartphone should have been confiscated.

She soon started posting messages on Twitter after barricading herself in a room in Bangkok's airport hotel saying she had "escaped Kuwait" and her life would be in danger if forced to return to Saudi Arabia.

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Several countries including Australia had been in talks with the United Nations refugee agency to accept Ms al-Qunun, who fled alleged family abuse and has been targeted with death threats.

The UN's refugee agency has said it considers her to be a legitimate refugee.

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Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun began tweeting from Bangkok's airport, and a campaign sprang up on Twitter prompting the Thai government to reverse a decision to force the young woman to go back to her family.

Her father travelled to Thailand and denied mistreating her but she refused to see him during his trip.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne met on Thursday with senior Thai officials in Bangkok.

Ms al-Qunun previously said on her Twitter account that she wished to seek refuge in Australia.

It noted that Hakeem al-Araibi, a refugee and "torture survivor" from Bahrain granted residence in Australia, has been detained by Thailand since November awaiting a hearing on a Bahraini extradition request.

Canada's acceptance of Alqunun is likely to further upset its relations with the Saudi rulers. was convicted for vandalizing a police station in Bahrain and sentenced to 10 years in prison in absentia.

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