A Saudi teenager who fled to Thailand to escape alleged abuse by her family has left for Canada to take up an offer of asylum, according to Thailand’s immigration police chief.
Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18, took a flight to Seoul, South Korea, with a final destination of Toronto, said Police Chief Surachate Hakparn.
Ms Mohammed al-Qunun was on her way to Australia last Saturday when she was stopped at Bangkok airport by immigration police who seized her passport.
She barricaded herself in an airport hotel room and launched a social media campaign that drew global attention to her case.
Thai officials agreed to admit her temporarily under the protection of UN officials who granted her refugee status on Wednesday.
The case has highlighted the cause of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.
Several female Saudis fleeing abuse by their families have been caught trying to seek asylum abroad in recent years and returned home.
Human rights activists say many similar cases have gone unreported.
If Canada takes Ms Mohammed al-Qunun, it could further upset Saudi-Canada relations.
In August, Saudi Arabia expelled Canada’s ambassador to the kingdom and withdrew its own ambassador in a row over the arrests of women’s right activists.
The Saudis also sold Canadian investments and ordered their citizens studying in Canada to leave.