Saudi woman trapped trying to flee

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-46773625

Bangkok airportImage copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun said her passport was seized at Bangkok airport

A young Saudi woman says she is stranded at Bangkok’s main airport after fleeing her family and having her passport seized by a Saudi official.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun says she was on a trip to Kuwait with her family when she fled on a flight two days ago.

She was trying to head to Australia via a connecting flight in Bangkok.

She told the BBC that she had renounced Islam, and feared she would be forcibly returned to Saudi Arabia and killed by her family.

The BBC’s Jonathan Head in Bangkok says Ms Mohammed al-Qunun is frightened and confused. She says she has an Australian visa but her passport was seized by a Saudi diplomat when he met her coming off the flight at Suvarnabhumi airport.

Thai police Maj Gen Surachate Hakparn told the BBC that Ms Mohammed al-Qunun was escaping a marriage. Because she did not have a visa to enter Thailand, he said police had denied her entry and were in the process of repatriating her through the same airline she had taken, Kuwait Airlines.

Gen Surachate said he was unaware of any passport seizure.

It is unclear why Ms Mohammed al-Qunun would need a Thai visa if she was in transit to Australia and had an Australian visa.

Saudi citizens visiting Thailand are also eligible to apply for a visa on arrival when entering the country.

Ms Mohammed al-Qunun detailed her plight on Twitter, saying: “Because I got nothing to lose I’m going now to share me real name and my all information.”

She also shared a picture of her passport “because I want you to know I’m real and exist”.

Another tweet read: “I’m afraid my family will kill me.”

The case echoes that of another Saudi woman who was in transit to Australia in April 2017.

Dina Ali Lasloom, 24, was en route from Kuwait via the Philippines but was taken back to Saudi Arabia from Manila airport by her family.

She used a Canadian tourist’s phone to send a message, a video of which was posted to Twitter, saying her family would kill her.

Her fate on arriving back in Saudi Arabia remains unknown.