ORLANDO, Fla., Aug. 24 (UPI) -- An attorney for the mother of a teen girl who ran away from her Muslim family in Ohio and wound up in Florida said Florida's governor politicized the matter.
Fathima Rifqa Bary, 17, said she fled her home in late July after her father threatened to kill her for converting to Christianity. A Florida judge ruled late last week she could stay in Florida while custody issues were considered.
Attorney Craig McCarthy said Florida Gov. Charlie Crist issued an "unfortunate" statement about the matter while it is under investigation, The Orlando Sentinel reported Monday.
"The governor's unfortunate decision to make a public statement taking sides in the Rifqa Bary case before any evidence other than allegations has been presented underscores the need to return this case to the child's home state of Ohio," McCarthy said in the statement. "Governor Crist stated that he was 'grateful' that the judge ruled a specific way and in support of his 'administration's position.'"
McCarthy said the family has been "exploited" by those who want to make the matter a religious issue and Crist's statement made the issue "a political matter as well."
The teen said she wants to remain in Orlando with her foster family until she turns 18. Her parents said during a hearing last week they do not want to kill their daughter but want her to come home.