Saudi woman says she’s being ‘held’ at Thai airport


Saudi woman says she's being 'held' at Thai airport
A picture shows a general view from a Thai Airways plane as it descends over Bangkok at dawn on November 5, 2009 preparing to land at Suvarnabhumi airport. AFP PHOTO/ROMEO

In Summary

  • Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun says that on landing at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thailand, she had her passport confiscated and that she is being "held" by Saudi embassy officials.
  • In another tweet she said she had left the room to see how closely she was being watched but was asked to return.

A young Saudi woman says she is being detained at Bangkok’s main airport after trying to escape from her parents in Kuwait.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun says that on landing at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thailand, she had her passport confiscated and that she is being “held” by Saudi embassy officials.

“I cannot flee the airport, I’ve tried but couldn’t. There’s a security guard watching me,” the 18-year-old said on a live video posted on Twitter.

In another tweet she said she had left the room to see how closely she was being watched but was asked to return.

Surachet Hakpal, chief of the Thailand’s Immigration Bureau told CNN that al-Qunun had been refused entry into the country because she did not present “any necessary document[s],” but he denied that the Saudi teenager was being detained by Thai authorities.

“In order to enter our country, she must comply with our regulations…This is their [Saudi Arabia’s] internal affairs. We are simply performing our duties” he said. Hakpal also said al-Qunun was trying to escape from an arranged marriage.

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch in Asia said no country should interfere with an 18-year-old’s right to travel where she wishes. Robertson told CNN that al-Qunun “fears for her life if she is returned to Saudi Arabia and her family, who have physically and psychologically abused her for daring to assert her independence.”

Saudi Arabia did not immediately respond to CNN’s requests for comments.

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