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Al-Araibi walks free as Bahrain withdraws extradition request

12 February, 2019, 04:56 | Author: Ted Wilson
  • Bill Shorten wants to meet with the detained man's wife

On Monday, Thai officials told the BBC they had released al-Araibi because Bahrain was no longer seeking his extradition.

Mr Araibi was granted refugee status in Australia after fleeing charges in Bahrain connected to Arab Spring protests but was stopped in Thailand in November attempting to go on his honeymoon.

"FIFA is extremely pleased to see Hakeem Al-Araibi released from prison in Thailand and allowed to travel back to his home in Australia", world football's governing body said.

"The decision to issue an global arrest warrant stems from Mr.al-Araibi's decision to flee while awaiting trial", the state news agency wrote. Thailand and Bahrain do not have a formal extradition treaty but an extradition has been possible in the past "in the spirit of reciprocation and cooperation".

Officials in Bahrain have said the country, "reaffirms its right to pursue all necessary legal actions against" Mr al-Araibi. The young footballer has said he was playing in a televised match around the time of the crime and could never have been there.

Since then, he has been detained in a Bangkok prison pending a court ruling over the extradition request from the Bahraini government - a move the footballer has pleaded against as he fears torture if returned.

Bahrain wanted its former national team player to return and serve a 10-year prison sentence that was handed down in absentia after he was accused of vandalising a police station.

She said she requested his release on bail but it was denied because the court deemed him a flight risk. He has been living in Melbourne, where he plays for a semi-professional football team.

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Thai authorities escorted Hakeem al-Araibi through Suvarnabhumi airport early last night where it is believed he boarded a JetStar flight back to Melbourne.

"This is a significant win for humanity, people everywhere standing up for good, pushing back against regimes who flout worldwide law, for human rights", Foster said.

Pressure had been intensifying on both the Bahraini and Thai governments to drop the extradition case, especially after videos of Araibi walking in shackles were circulated on social media.

The refugee footballer was facing the possibility of being sent back to Bahrain - where human rights activists said he would nearly definitely be tortured - after being arrested in Thailand while on his honeymoon.

Al-Araibi's ordeal shone a light on the human rights violations committed against athletes around the world, Foster said.

"We greatly appreciate their listening to the issues that have been raised by our government and many others who have raised this case", Mr Morrison said.

In a news release on Monday, Bahrain's state news agency said the country's Foreign Ministry took "note of the halt in legal proceedings" to have him extradited.

Former Socceroos captain Foster led the campaign to free Al-Araibi, who had been detained in a Bangkok jail since late November after Interpol flagged a red notice for his arrest.

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