Saudi envoy insists teenager’s case is family affairs, does not affect Thai-Saudi ties

The Saudi envoy in Bangkok gave an assurance today that the case of a Saudi teenager seeking asylum in a third country from Thailand is a family affairs and will not have any impact on the relations between Saudi Arabia and Thailand.

Pol Lt-Gen Surachate Hakparn, commissioner of Immigration Bureau, who is handling the case was reportedly given the assurance by the Saudi charge d’affaires during a meeting at the Saudi Embassy.

Pol Lt-Gen Surachate met with the Saudi envoy to explain the Thai government’s decision not to send the teenaged girl, Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, back to Kuwait where she came from as demanded by her family.

The Saudi charge d’affaires also maintained that Saudi officials have not demanded Rahaf to be sent home but, instead, have asked  Thai authorities to ensure the safety of the girl.  He also insisted that the incident was a family affairs and denied claims that the girl had her passport confiscated by Saudi embassy officials at Suvarnabhumi international airport.

Meanwhile, it was reported that the father and elder brother of the Saudi teenager have flown into Bangkok from Saudi Arabia  and have asked to see the teenaged girl who is now under the care of the UNHCR representative office in Bangkok pending legal process for her political asylum in Australia.

Police sources said it would depend on the teenaged girl whether to meet with her father and brother or not and, if she agreed to meet them, an UNHCR official must be present at all time.

Rahaf arrived at Suvarnabhumi international airport on Saturday from Kuwait and was held up by Thai immigration officials because she didn’t have proper travel documents.  The officials had planned to put her on a flight back to Kuwait on Sunday but her online pleas drew international attention and prompted the UNHCR office in Bangkok to intervene on her behalf.

Rahaf was quoted as telling Thai police that she came to Thailand with an intention to meet an American friend and did not intend to ask for asylum in a third country.

Earlier, she told Reuters via text and audio messages she had fled Kuwait during a family visit there, and had planned to travel to Australia to seek asylum.  She refused to be sent back fearing for her life from her family.


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