Australia will consider asylum bid of Saudi woman who fled to Thailand

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The father and brother of a Saudi teenager who was detained in Bangkok after fleeing a family she claims will kill her are, according to police, due to arrive in Thailand imminently, where she is not being deported home as initially feared.

She said she feared her family would kill her for renouncing Islam.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told reporters on Wednesday - before the referral was confirmed - that Australia would consider any referrals from the United Nations but Ms al-Qunun would not receive any "special treatment".

Saudi's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that its embassy in Bangkok was in contact with the father "as it's the Embassy's role to inform him on her situation and the date of her return".

The woman, whose predicament went viral via her Twitter account, told Human Rights Watch that she had arrived at Bangkok's main airport on January 5 from Kuwait, and that her passport was seized, preventing her from traveling to Australia.

Her urgent pleas for help over Twitter from an airport hotel room garnered tens of thousands of followers and the attention of the U.N.'s refugee agency, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. However, Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director with Human Rights Watch, revealed that Canada "really worked very hard" to "persuade" Thailand not to expel her. Al-Qunun's father and brother arrived in Bangkok seeking a talk with her. She was planning to seek asylum in Australia but was intercepted at an airport transit zone in Bangkok.

Qunun has now more than 90,000 followers on Twitter, while a petition on Change.org asking to grant her asylum in Britain had reached more nearly 80,000 signatures by Tuesday evening.

The embassy of Saudi Arabia in Bangkok declined to comment on the case, but the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement through its Twitter account claiming that the embassy "did not impound the girl's passport", as Qunun claimed on Twitter, and that they "did not meet or communicate with her", only with the Thai authorities.

Alqunun barricaded herself in the hotel room and announced on social media that she wouldn't leave until she met with officials from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

"Due to privacy concerns, we can not comment on a specific case without signed consent", said Nancy Caron, a spokeswoman for Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

Thailand's immigration police chief met Tuesday with officials from the Saudi Embassy in Bangkok, as Saudi Arabia tried to distance itself from accusations that it attempted to block a young woman's effort to flee from her family and seek asylum overseas.

Lawmakers and activists in Australia and Britain have urged their governments to grant asylum to Qunun.

Saudi Arabia's strict social rules requirem women to have the permission of a male "guardian" to travel. "She was unhappy having to wear the hijab and being forced to pray", he added.

Ms Alqunun ran away from a family trip to Kuwait last week and flew to Thailand in the hope of reaching Australia to seek asylum.

A number of female activists who fought for the right to drive have been arrested and disappeared and the country has been condemned across the world over the gruesome murder late previous year of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at its consulate in Turkey.

Video footage posted on Twitter by a Saudi human rights activist appeared to show a Saudi official complaining that Thai authorities should have confiscated Qunun's smartphone.

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