Father of Saudi teen asylum seeker in Thailand, seeks meeting

A Saudi woman held at Suvarnabhumi airport in Thailand said she would be killed if she was repatriated by Thai immigration officials. — Reuters pic

The head of Thailand's immigration police said Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun was allowed to temporarily enter Thailand on Monday under the protection of the United Nations refugee agency, which was expected to take at least five to seven days to evaluate her case and claims for asylum status.

Abdulilah al-Shouaibi, charge d'affaires at the Saudi embassy in Bangkok, told Saudi-owned TV station Khalijia that Qunun's father had contacted the diplomatic mission for "help" bringing her back.

Thai officials said it will be the teenager's decision on whether to see her father or not.

But she was stopped yesterday when she got off the plane in Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport by Kuwaiti and Saudi embassy officials, she said, and has since been held in an airport hotel awaiting deportation.

The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, issued a statement saying it was following the case and "trying to seek access from the Thai authorities" to meet with Alqunun to assess her need for worldwide protection.

"My brothers and family and the Saudi embassy will be waiting for me in Kuwait", Ms Mohammed al-Qunun said.

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun ran away as the family left the Arab kingdom on a holiday to Kuwait, claiming that they had subjected her to beatings, threats and locked her in a room for six months for cutting her hair.

"For now, I just called for the immigration and Rahaf herself, and the staff at the hotel" to be questioned, she added.

"I'm afraid, my family WILL kill me". Giuseppe de Vincentis, the UNHCR representative in Thailand, said the Thai government had given assurances Qunun would not be expelled to any country where she might be in danger while her case was being processed.

Gen Surachate said he was unaware of any passport seizure and it is unclear why Ms Mohammed al-Qunun would need a Thai visa if she was in transit to Australia and had an Australian visa.

"UNHCR has been following developments closely and immediately sought access from the Thai authorities to meet with Rahaf to assess her need for worldwide protection", Fleming wrote on Twitter.

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A woman in Britain had launched an online petition calling on Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to grant Qunan asylum and issue her an emergency travel document.

Thailand is known to deport refugees to countries such as China, Pakistan and it was being said that Qunan too would be sent back to her home country.

"As of now, she does not wish to go back and we will not force her".

He also questioned a statement by Thailand's Immigration chief to the BBC that Ms Alqunun did not have a travel visa, which prevented her from entering Thailand.

Saudi Arabia's embassy in Thailand denied reports that Riyadh had requested the extradition of the women. A Saudi diplomat had reportedly seized it when she flew into Thailand from Kuwait on Saturday.

She tweeted that she learned that her father had arrived in Thailand to see her, which made her "worried and scared".

Thailand's immigration chief said they would not send a Saudi woman back to Kuwait due to safety concerns. "I know them. They kept telling me they will kill me if I do something wrong - they say that since I was a child".

"They said "you have three minutes to pack, and you will be flown back to Kuwait tomorrow at 11.15am, then returned to Saudi Arabia", she told AAP.

"They will kill me".

She came from Kuwait on her way to Australia with the intention of applying for asylum and escaping what she described as violence by her family.

An airline security official reported seeing her dragged out of the airport with her mouth, hands, and feet bound with duct tape.

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