Thai court orders release of Bahrain refugee soccer player

Wanderers Thai Airways
Thailand to free Bahraini footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi
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12 February, 2019

Bangkok, Refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi will not be sent back to Bahrain after Thailand dropped extradition proceedings against him at the Gulf State's request, a prosecutor said Monday.

Public prosecutor Settha Thianpilakul from the foreign affairs bureau of the Office of the Attorney-General arrived at the court on Ratchadaphisek Road on Monday afternoon to withdraw prosecutors' earlier request for the extradition of the 25-year-old Bahraini footballer.

Reports from the ABC and BBC say Al-Araibi, who has refugee status in Australia, is set to be released.

A similar campaign was launched on behalf of Araibi by human rights groups, fellow soccer players and other activists - including the heroes who helped save a Thai soccer team trapped in a cave past year - with the hashtag #SaveHakeem.

He was detained upon his arrival in Bangkok in November while on a holiday at the request of Bahrain relayed through Interpol - from the worldwide police body's Australian office.

The player fled Bahrain in 2014 and now plays for semi-professional Melbourne-based club Pascoe Vale.

Former Socceroo Craig Foster tweeted, "thanks go to the wonderful people of Thailand for your support and to Thai Government for upholding worldwide law". Morrison cautioned, however, "as is always in these cases, people aren't home until they're home". But it added that the guilty verdict against him "remains in place" and "t$3 he Kingdom of Bahrain reaffirms its right to pursue all necessary legal actions against Mr. Al Araibi".

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He has denied the charge and said the case, which has attracted worldwide attention, is politically motivated.

On Monday evening, Foster tweeted his thanks to Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his Government.

"They blindfolded me", he told the Times in 2016.

On Monday, prosecutors submitted to court a request to withdraw the case to extradite Al-Araibi to Bahrain, where he faces a 10-year prison sentence for an arson attack that damaged a police station. I can't list them, but will thank each of them in time.

Alqunun fled her family to Bangkok while on holiday in Kuwait but was detained by authorities shortly after arrival.

"Fifa is committed to protecting human rights".

Australian police acknowledge doing so, but there have been questions raised about why the Red Notice appeared to have been issued just before al-Araibi departed on his trip, and whether Bahraini authorities had been tipped off about his travel plans.


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