Saudi teen fleeing family granted asylum in Canada

Saudi teen fleeing family granted asylum in Canada
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The Saudi teenager who says she fled from the nation and her family in fear for her life has been granted asylum in Canada.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, an 18-year-old who traveled from Kuwait to Thailand before gaining international attention with her story, had been accepted into Canada upon an asylum request from the United Nations, according to Reuters.


“Canada is a country that understands how important it is to stand up for human rights, to stand up for women’s rights around the world, and I can confirm that we have accepted the U.N.’s request,” Trudeau said.

“Canada has been unequivocal that we will always stand up for human rights and women’s rights around the world,” the prime minister added.

Al-Qunun was headed to Toronto on Friday at the time of Trudeau's announcement, Reuters reports, following a 48-hour standoff in Bangkok during which she refused to be sent back to her family in Saudi Arabia.

She also reportedly refused to meet with her father and brother, who traveled to Bangkok's airport to take her back to her home country.

“It was her wish to go to Canada,” Thailand’s immigration chief Surachate Hakparn said at a press conference, according to Reuters. “She still refuses to meet with her father and brother, and they are going to be traveling back tonight as well."

Al-Qunun is expected to arrive in Toronto on Saturday, according to Reuters. Her flight from the country comes as the Saudi royal family has faced ongoing criticism abroad for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who was slain in a Saudi Consulate in Turkey last year.