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Refugee footballer will not be extradited to Bahrain: Thai prosecutor

11 February, 2019, 17:12 | Author: Lucille Rivera
  • Wanderers Thai Airways

Thailand's Foreign Ministry said in a statement last week that al-Araibi was detained because Australian authorities had forwarded them an Interpol Red Notice that Bahrain was seeking his arrest.

"We have been informed that Bahrain wants to withdraw the (extradition) request. if they don't want him, we have no reason to keep him here", he told AFP.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed on Monday night that, as of 9pm, al-Araibi had been freed from prison and was on his way to the airport to travel back to Australia. "He is at grave risk of unjust imprisonment, torture and other ill-treatment if he is returned to Bahrain".

But Araibi says the case is bogus and tied to his criticism of Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, a member of Bahrain's ruling family.

Hakeem Al Araibi, 25, who fled Bahrain in 2014 and received refugee status in Australia, was arrested in November a year ago at a Bangkok airport while on a honeymoon trip, following an Interpol notice issued at Bahrain's request.

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He was sentenced in absentia to 10 years for vandalising a police station.

Former Australian football captain Craig Foster who has been leading a protest in the football community for Araibi's freedom expressed his "deepest gratitude" for the news.

Al-Araibi, who fled Bahrain in 2014 before being granted permanent residence in Australia, was arrested while on honeymoon in Bangkok in November. He has been living in Melbourne, where he plays for a semi-professional soccer team.

Mr Araibi has said he was blindfolded and had his legs beaten while he was held in Bahrain previously. There was no global reaction for previous renditions from Thailand of refugees and asylum-seekers to countries where campaigners said they risked ill-treatment. "He was very strong that he wants to go back to Australia from the beginning", Bergman said.

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