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The Latest: Saudi woman leaves Bangkok airport hotel room

January 7, 2019
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In this Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, image made from video released by Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun/Human Rights Watch, Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun views her mobile phone as she sits barricaded in a hotel room at an international airport in Bangkok, Thailand. Alqunun says she is fleeing abuse by her family and wants asylum in Australia. (Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun/Human Rights Watch via AP)

BANGKOK (AP) — The Latest on a Saudi woman who says she is fleeing abuse by her family (all times local):

9:20 p.m.

An 18-year-old Saudi woman who was stopped in Bangkok as she was trying to travel to Australia for asylum to escape alleged abuse by her family has left her airport hotel room for temporary admission into Thailand.

The head of Thailand’s immigration police said Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun was allowed to temporarily enter Thailand on Monday under the protection of the U.N. refugee agency, which was expected to take at least five to seven days to evaluate her case and claims for asylum status.

Immigration police released photos of Alqunun after she left the hotel room where she had been holed up. Where she would stay in the Thai capital was not announced.

Alqunun had stayed in the room while sending out desperate pleas for help over social media. She began posting on Twitter late Saturday after her passport was taken away when she arrived in Bangkok on a flight from Kuwait.

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8:10 p.m.

Thailand’s immigration police chief says the young Saudi woman seeking passage to asylum in Australia will be temporarily admitted to Thailand for evaluation by the U.N. refugee agency.

 Maj. Gen. Surachate Hakparn told reporters Monday that 18-year-old Ramaf Mohammed Alqunun would be granted entry under the protection of the office of the U.N. High Commissioner of Refugees. He said the U.N. agency would take at least five to seven days to evaluate her case.

Surachate’s announcement came after Thai authorities allowed a U.N. team to meet with Alqunun.

Police officials and staff at the Bangkok airport hotel where the woman was staying said she had already left her room there, though her exact destination was not made public.

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7 p.m.

The United Nations’ refugee agency says it has been in contact with the young Saudi woman who is trapped in Bangkok en route to seeking asylum in Australia after claiming to have fled her family fearing for her life.

A statement issued Monday by the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for refugees said it sought to assess 18-year-old Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun’s “need for international refugee protection and find an immediate solution for her situation.”

It said that “for reasons of confidentiality and protection” it would not release details of their meeting.

Alqunun is barricaded in an airport hotel room in the Thai capital and had been pleading to talk to U.N. officials.

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6:30 p.m.

Thailand’s immigration police chief says the father of the young Saudi woman who is trapped in Bangkok after being stopped en route to seeking asylum in Australia is supposed to arrive in Thailand on Monday night.

Maj. Gen. Surachate Hakparn says that after the father of Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun arrives, officials will see what happens and whether or not she will want to go back with him.

Abuse by her family was one of the reasons Alqunun cited for fleeing. Under Saudi law, a male relative is supposed to serve as a woman’s guardian for many everyday social activities.

Alqunun is barricaded in a Bangkok airport hotel room and has been pleading to talk to U.N. officials.

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4:35 p.m.

Thailand’s Immigration Police chief says the young Saudi woman who was stopped in Bangkok as she was trying to travel to Australia for asylum to escape alleged abuse by her family will not be sent anywhere against her wishes.

Maj. Gen. Surachate Hakparn said at a news conference at Bangkok’s main international airport on Monday that Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun will be allowed to meet U.N. refugee officials. He said he will discuss allowing them to see her later Monday.

Alqunun is barricaded in an airport hotel room and has been pleading to talk to the U.N. officials.

Surachate also said if Thai authorities decide not to send her back to Saudi Arabia then they would need to explain why to Saudi authorities in order not to affect the countries’ relations.

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3:55 p.m.

A law firm trying to prevent the deportation from Thailand of a Saudi woman seeking to go to Australia to get asylum to escape from an allegedly abusive family says a Thai court has turned down its request for an injunction.

The NPS law firm said on Facebook on Monday that the Bangkok Criminal Court turned down its request in the case of 18-year-old Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun because there was not enough evidence and it was not clear who she is.

Alqunun arrived in Bangkok on Saturday night intending to transit to Australia. She says her passport was seized and she was put in an airport hotel room and told she would have to fly Monday morning to Kuwait, from where she flew. But she remained barricaded in her room.

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1:05 p.m.

A Saudi woman who says she is fleeing abuse by her family and wants asylum in Australia has barricaded herself in an airport hotel room at an international airport in the Thai capital and is sending out desperate pleas for help over social media.

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun began posting on Twitter late Saturday after her passport was taken away when she arrived on a flight from Kuwait. The 18-year-old has been appealing for aid from the United Nations refugee agency and anyone else who can help.

On Twitter, she wrote of being in “real danger” if forced to return to her family under pressure from Saudi authorities. She tweeted Monday that a friend would carry on posting to her account if she was taken away or denied access to it.