Thai police: Saudi asylum seeker is flying to Canada

BBC asks if Muslim teenager who fled Saudi ‘should be killed for leaving Islam’

While Payne said there was "no timeframe" for a decision, Thailand's immigration department chief, Surachate Hakparn, said it should become clear by Friday evening where Qunun would be granted asylum.

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

Australian authorities are weighing the young Saudi woman's asylum claim at unusual speed, several lawyers and legal experts told AFP, contrasting her high-profile plight with a normally excruciatingly slow system.

Thai authorities had threatened to deport her but with the help of activists, diplomats and a hastily opened Twitter account Qunun launched an impassioned campaign for asylum.

Global News reached out to the UNHCR Canada for a comment, but a spokesperson said due to "protection reasons" the agency can not talk about her case.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18, had her passport seized after fleeing her family.

"The Department. will consider this referral in the usual way, as it does with all UNHCR referrals", it said in a statement.

On Wednesday the home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, warned there would be "no special treatment" for Qunun.

Payne's visit will also put a spotlight on another refugee case, involving a Bahrain footballer Hakeem AlAraibi, who has refugee status in Australia but was arrested at Bangkok airport previous year after arriving for his honeymoon.

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She only joined the social media site at the start of this month but has quickly racked up more than 100,000 followers.

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun garnered worldwide attention after she began tweeting from Bangkok airport last weekend, saying her life was in danger if she were forced to return to Saudi Arabia.

He said the family's patriarch had met with the UNHCR yesterday morning and will return to "her country" later today.

Some online users from Saudi Arabia have been critical of her actions. Saudi religious law forbids her to travel alone without permission of her male guardian. Social media appears to have played a decisive role in helping Qunun avoiding being sent back to a family she accuses of abusing her.

Qunun had previously expressed wanting to come to Canada on her Twitter account, which was deleted on Friday after getting death threats, Reuters reported. In a video clip of the meeting released by Thai immigration police, Alsheaiby is heard telling Thai officials: "From the moment she arrived, she opened a new account and her followers reached nearly 45,000 in a day. and I would have preferred it better if her phone was taken instead of her passport".

The Saudi embassy in Bangkok said it "did not demand her deportation" and that the case is "a family affair".

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun's appeal for refugee status has underscored the severe restrictions that women in Saudi Arabia face. He is obligated to do everything in his power to advocate, both privately and publicly, and to use the huge leverage that football has, with the Bahrain government, his own government, he's a Bahrainian national, and also with the Thai government to release Hakeem.

Refugee status is normally granted by governments, but the UNHCR can grant it where states are "unable or unwilling to do so", according to its website.

"[The] cause and reasoning [of both cases] are entirely different", she said.

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