Immigration Minister David Coleman has defended Australia’s handling of an asylum case involving an 18-year-old Saudi woman, who is now on her way to Canada.
Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun made worldwide news when she barricaded herself in an airport hotel room in Bangkok and began tweeting that her life was in danger if she were forced to return to Saudi Arabia.
Ms Alqunun had been attempting to fly to Australia when her passport was seized in Bangkok.
She nominated Australia as a country of preference with the Australian government working with Thai authorities to ensure Ms Alqunun’s safety.
But after delays seeking asylum with Australia, Ms Alqunun boarded a Korean Air flight from Bangkok to Seoul late on Friday night, before catching a connecting flight to Canada.
Mr Coleman said the Australian government welcomed the news, saying Ms Alqunun’s safety was its primary concern.
Australian officials were still weighing offering her asylum, he said on Saturday morning.
“We have been working with the UNHCR and international partners to ensure her claim is assessed appropriately,” he said in a statement.
“We wish Ms Alqunun all the best for her future in Canada.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was pleased to welcome Ms Alqunun after authorities approved her bid for asylum in just one day.
“That is something that we are pleased to do because Canada is a country that understands how important it is to stand up for human rights and to stand up for woman’s rights around the world,” Mr Trudeau said.
Canada’s ambassador saw Ms Alqunun off at the airport and she looked happy and healthy, Thailand’s immigration police chief Surachate Hakparn said.
“She chose Canada. It’s her personal decision,” General Surachate told media.