Published: Mon, February 11, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Bahrain Refugee Footballer Free As Thailand Drops Extradition Proceedings

Bahrain Refugee Footballer Free As Thailand Drops Extradition Proceedings

Al-Araibi has been jailed in a Bangkok prison since late November with his country of birth Bahrain keen to extradite the Australian refugee to serve a 10-year prison term he received in absentia.

However, the Middle East nation has withdrawn the request, leading a Thai court to approve a motion by prosecutors to drop the case against the footballer, said Chatchom Akapin, an official in the Thai Attorney-General's office.

Al-Araibi was originally wanted by Bahrain over the vandalising of a police station in 2012.

Former Socceroos captain Craig Foster has built a global coalition of sporting bodies and stars - from both within football and the wider sports community - to call for Hakeem's release and pressure Thailand to return him to Australia.

What began as a honeymoon turned into a two-month nightmare, but at last Hakeem al-Araibi's ordeal is over.

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

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Mr Araibi has said he was blindfolded and had his legs beaten while he was held in Bahrain previously.

"Thanks go to the wonderful people of Thailand for your support and to Thai Government for upholding worldwide law", Foster said.

"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.

He said Federation Internationale de Football Association has not discussed imposing sanctions on either Bahrain or Thailand over the case. "He is at grave risk of unjust imprisonment, torture and other ill-treatment if he is returned to Bahrain".

Chatchom added that the process to release Araibi is under way.

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