The Latest: Saudi woman fleeing family arrives in Canada

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TORONTO — The Latest on Saudi asylum seeker who fled alleged abuse by her family (all times local):

10:30 a.m.

An 18-year-old Saudi woman who said she feared death if deported back home has arrived in Canada, which has granted her asylum.

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland says that Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun is now in Canada.

Standing with Alqunun by her side at Toronto’s airport Saturday, Freeland said: “This a very brave new Canadian.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had said Canada would accept Alqunun as a refugee, capping a dramatic week that saw her flee her family while visiting Kuwait and before flying to Bangkok, where she barricaded herself in an airport hotel to avoid deportation. The case grabbed global attention after she mounted a social media campaign for asylum.

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12:02 a.m.

An 18-year-old Saudi runaway who said she was abused and feared death if deported back home was expected to arrive Saturday in Canada, which has granted her asylum.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would accept Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun as a refugee, capping a dramatic week that saw her flee her family while visiting Kuwait and before flying to Bangkok, where she barricaded herself in an airport hotel to avoid deportation. The case grabbed global attention after she mounted a social media campaign for asylum.

It highlighted the cause of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, where several women fleeing abuse by their families were caught trying to seek asylum abroad in recent years and returned home. Human rights activists say many similar cases go unreported.

“Canada has been unequivocal,” Trudeau said. “We will always stand up for human rights and women’s rights around the world.”

Alqunun is flying to Toronto via Seoul, South Korea, according to Thai immigration Police Chief Surachate Hakparn. Alqunun tweeted two pictures from her plane seat — one with what appears to be a glass of wine and her passport and another holding her passport while on the plane with the hastag “I did it” and the emojis showing plane, hearts and wine glass.

Canada’s decision to grant her asylum could further upset the country’s relations with Saudi Arabia.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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