Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun Is Coming To Canada: Thai Police

Immigration Bureau Saudi woman Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun foreground walks by Chief of Immigration Police Maj. Gen. Surachate Hakparn right before leaving the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok

Immigration police via AP FILE

A Saudi teenager who took to social media to plead for asylum, is now en route to Canada.

If Canada takes Ms Mohammed al-Qunun, it could further upset Saudi-Canada relations.

A spokesman for Canada's foreign minister said he could not confirm she was coming to Canada.

She said she has been subjected to physical and psychological abuse at the hands of her family in Saudi Arabia, where she was once locked in her room for six months for cutting her hair.

Saudi Arabia responded by freezing new trade and investment deals, suspending flights to Canada, reassigning students studying there and expelling Canada's ambassador to Saudi Arabia, while recalling its own.

"She chose Canada. Canada said it will accept her", he said. "That was actually one of the reasons why the original idea that she might be going to Australia was switched to go to Canada, because Canada was prepared to act much quicker and really make this happen".

The woman - in a widely followed social media campaign - had said she had "escaped Kuwait" and her life would have been in danger if Thailand had deported her back to Saudi Arabia.

Freeland said Alqunun commented about the cold weather and she responded that it gets warmer in Canada.

Earlier on Friday, several countries - including Canada and Australia - were in talks with the UN's refugee agency to accept Ms Alqunun, who fears being killed by her relatives if she returns to Saudi Arabia.

Australian media reported that UNHCR had withdrawn its referral for Alqunon to be resettled in Australia because Canberra was taking too long to decide on her asylum.

In the coming days, Costi representatives will help her open a bank account and perform various administrative tasks before finding her a permanent home.

Trudeau said that Canada was "pleased" to grant Alqunun asylum because "Canada is a country that understands how important it is to stand up for human rights and to stand up for women's rights around the world".

The Twitter account used by Qunun throughout her appeal for asylum was temporarily deactivated Friday but she later reappeared online, posting images from an airplane seat of what appeared to be her Saudi passport and boarding pass.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun captured worldwide attention when she posted on social media and pleaded with fellow passengers to hear her case for asylum. The Australian Government has not confirmed she has or will be granted asylum.

The developments come after the teenager, who will be flying from Bangkok to Seoul before taking a connecting flight to Canada, was given refugee status by the United Nations high commissioner for refugees on Wednesday.

Trudeau brushed aside suggestions that the move might complicate already strained relations with Saudi Arabia, while the organization Human Rights Watch praised Canada for acting swiftly to provide sanctuary to a vulnerable young woman.

Hakparn, the Thai immigration official, said Qunun had continued to refuse to meet with her father and brother before leaving Thailand. Thai officials agreed to admit her temporarily under the protection of United Nations officials, who granted her refugee status on Wednesday. Several female Saudis fleeing abuse by their families have been caught trying to seek asylum overseas in recent years and returned home.

She also thanked the supporters she said had saved her life.

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