Bahraini Runaway Princess Gets US Residency
Bahraini princess Meriam Al Khalifa, who fled her country with a US Marine, was granted permanent residency in the United States on Thursday after arguing that she would be persecuted if she returned to her homeland, according to Reuters.
Meriam Al Khalifa arrived in the United States about a year and a half ago with Jason Johnson, then a Marine stationed in Bahrain, where she is related to the royal family.
The couple's love affair and flight from the Gulf country was the subject of a TV movie. They have since married.
The princess sought asylum in the US, claiming that she feared for her safety because she had violated strict royal tradition by dating a non-Muslim.
Bejar said he and US immigration officials negotiated the arrangement, which was granted Thursday morning.
"She continues to be an alien but can live permanently in the United States," said her lawyer, Jan Bejar. "She was extremely happy. I think she has found peace finally."
Bejar added that the princess had no desire to return to Bahrain.
The TV movie, the Princess and the Marine, was inspired by the romance between Mariam, then 17, and Johnson, 25, who fell in love after meeting in 1998 in a shopping mall in Bahrain's capital Manama.
The two got to know each other mainly over the phone, before eloping to the United States when her family, who are Muslim, learned of the relationship, and barred Khalifa from seeing Johnson, a strict Mormon.
To get Khalifa, whose father is a cousin of the emir of Bahrain, Hamad Ben Issa Al Khalifa, out of the Arab state, Johnson dressed her up as a Marine, complete with fake military documents and a New York Yankees cap to hide her long hair.
The lance corporal, who had been serving with a counter-terrorism unit providing security to US citizens in Bahrain, was demoted to private for the escapade.
The couple was married in Las Vegas in November, two weeks after arriving in the United States.
Johnson has received an early discharge from the Marines and the couple is living somewhere on the West Coast, said Reuters - Albawaba.com
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