Bahraini Princess' Dad OK's Stay In U.S.

Democrat judge Irene Mason assists voter Denise Harris with her provisional ballot at Price Hall in Muncie, Ind., Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2006. Voting was extended to 8:40 p.m. due to voting equipment problems. (AP Photo/The Star Press, Melanie Maxwell)
AP/Star Press
The Bahraini princess who escaped her country to marry a U.S. Marine can now breathe a further sign of relief. Her father has said she's free to remain in the United States, and her parents are not demanding her return, according to a family spokesman.

Qays Zu'bi told CBS Radio News that her father wants Princess Meriam to be happy. "Their daughter is their daughter no matter where she is," he said, adding, "And their love for her will always be there.

"They want this to have a happy ending for their child," Zu'bi added.

The princess found out about her father's response via email from sisters, Zu'bi said.

Zu'bi added that the father would certainly welcome her back to visit or live, but was not sure if her husband would be welcome.

"If she chooses or desires to remain in the United States, they have no objection so long as they are assured she will be safe and her welfare and financial position will be satisfactory and fully secured," he said.

Princess Meriam, whose father is a relative of the ruling family, married Jason Johnson, a U.S. Marine who had been stationed on the island, after the two met at a shopping mall last year and fell in love.

Johnson used military gear to disguise her for a flight out of Bahrain, which hosts the headquarters of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet.

Princess Meriam, who has since married Johnson, has been charged with misrepresenting her identity to enter the United States and entering the country without legal documents.

She is now seeking asylum in the United States on the grounds that it would be dangerous for her to go home after defying the royal family.

U.S. Immigration Judge Ignacio Fernandez earlier this month refused to dismiss the charges against her, a decision that prevents the young princess from applying for permanent residency in the United States unless she wins political asylum.

Zu'bi said the American press has unfairly portrayed Bahrain as a society repressive to women.

"Bahrain is a lovely place to live," he said. "Bahraini ladies are free to move around. A lot of them travel to the United States alone. They live there and work there."

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