A Saudi woman who reportedly fled the kingdom to seek asylum in Australia has claimed she was detained en route in the Philippines until her father and uncles could collect her and force her to return.
Dina Ali Lasloom, 24, travelled from Kuwait to Manila on Tuesday but was removed from her transit flight to Sydney and put on a flight home at the request of her family and Saudi officials, according to a video posted to Twitter.
In the message, filmed on the phone of a Canadian witness, believed to have been posted from Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport and in which her face cannot be seen, Ms Lasloon claimed she has been held for 13 hours like a “criminal” while authorities waited for her family to arrive, and she feared being killed by them if sent back to Saudi Arabia.
Under Saudi Arabian law men and women are mostly segregated in public life, and women are heavily restricted in their movements and freedoms. They may not travel without the permission of a male guardian – usually a father or husband.
Supporters in Riyadh say Ms Lasloon arrived back in the capital late on Tuesday, but her current whereabouts are unknown. Activists and journalists who waited for her arrival at Riyadh’s King Khaled International Airport saw no sign of her.
The Saudi Arabian embassy in the Philippines confirmed to media that a citizen had been returned to the kingdom, adding that what happened was a “family affair”, but the Philippines Bureau of Immigration has denied detaining the 24-year-old.
The Independent’s requests for comment from both airports and the Saudi embassy in Manila were not immediately answered.
An online appeal to help Ms Lasoom using the tag #SaveDinaAli has sprung up with the aim of helping her, but critics have pointed out that images of her unused ticket from Manila to Sydney and videos purporting to show her arguing with airport officials currently circulating on social media could be fake.
Several accounts purporting to be Ms Lasoom have appeared in the last few days.
The government-led Saudi Human Rights Commission has said it is aware of the woman’s case and is investigating the situation.
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