Police are looking into allegations that two sisters from Saudi Arabia on the run from their country and family were briefly kidnapped at Hong Kong airport before they ended up stuck in hiding in the city without valid passports.
The pair, who have renounced their Muslim faith, fled to Hong Kong almost six months ago, midway through a family holiday in Sri Lanka.
Their final destination was meant to be Australia, but they were apprehended at Hong Kong International Airport by staff from the Saudi consulate, according to their lawyer.
On arrival at the airport on September 6, the women discovered their connecting flight to Melbourne had been cancelled, and Saudi consular staff, including the consul general, allegedly attempted to place them on a flight to Riyadh.
Vidler & Co Solicitors, which has been representing the two, said a Sri Lankan Airlines employee even briefly snatched their passports.
Their escape prompted a pursuit across the globe by their father and uncle - high-ranking officials in Saudi Arabia - who flew to Hong Kong to file a missing persons report, multiple sources told the Post.
Hong Kong police eventually tracked down the women, at which point the two filed a report with the force, recounting their alleged ordeal at the airport, their lawyers said.
The supposedly brief stopover in the city has now turned into one which has left them stranded and fearing for their safety. The sisters have moved 13 times in the past five months, their lawyers said.
The women's passports have been invalidated, but they have only been given permission to stay in Hong Kong until next Thursday, according to their solicitors.
Human rights lawyer Michael Vidler said the pair had filed an application for an emergency visa to a third country.
"We would like to see determination from this third country by that day," Vidler said.
The sisters said in a joint statement issued on Thursday: "We fled our home to ensure our safety. We hope that we can be given asylum in a country which recognises women's rights and treats them as equals. We dream of being in a safe place where we can be normal young women, free from violence and oppression."
Their plight came to light after American news outlet CNN reported that they had allegedly been physically abused back home by their father and brothers.