Bahraini footballer Hakeem al-Araibi set to be released by Thai authorities

12 February, 2019, 04:57 | Author: Emmett Rice
  • Al-Araibi was convicted to 10 years' jail for his alleged role in a 2012 police station attack

"Our special thanks to the Australian football community and Hakeem's colleagues; particularly to the former Australia global footballer Craig Foster, who has honestly put nothing before this appalling case and has never lost any chance but to save Hakeem". "They all deserve to be in front of camera now, not only me".

It was still unclear exactly when or why the Thai Government made a decision to free him, however, it was understood Bahrain agreed to drop extradition proceedings against him after talks between Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa and the Thai Foreign Minister over the weekend.

Monday's development follows an appeal, reported by media on Saturday, to the Thai prime minister from two Australian divers who helped save 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave.

Before the soccer player's release, Thailand's Foreign Ministry last week released a defensive statement in which it claimed that Thai authorities "would not have become involved in the issue had we not received the red notice alert from the Australian Interpol and the subsequent formal request by Bahrain for his arrest and extradition".

"I would like to say thanks to Australia".

Al-Araibi was detained in November previous year over an extradition request from Bahrain upon arriving at Bangkok Airport to start his honeymoon.

In a statement, world players' union FIFPro said it was delighted that Al-Araibi had been released.

"He is on his way to the airport, the next step is for him to return home".

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He came to Australia seeking asylum in 2014 after fleeing from Bahrain and was granted refugee status in 2017.

The pro-democracy advocate had been sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment in absentia by the Bahrain regime for alleged vandalism but denied any involvement.

Al-Araibi was arrested and detained last November, while on his honeymoon in Thailand at the request of the Bahraini government.

Al-Araibi has said he was blindfolded and had his legs beaten when he was held in Bahrain previously.

"The credibility of the Bahrain legal system and this concept that they have of rule of law has been completely discredited", Mr Foster said.

Separately, BNA said Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa had met Thailand's foreign minister, who was visiting the island, on Sunday.

The Bangkok court previously set an April 22 date for the next hearing.

"He is a free man", Chatchom Akapin, an official in the Thai Attorney-General's office, said on Monday after Bahrain withdrew its extradition request without explanation. It also ended a tense diplomatic spat between Australia and Bahrain which had Thailand torn between the two Governments. "(P) eople everywhere standing up for good, pushing back against regimes who flout worldwide law, for human rights". Before his departure she said she wanted him to get on the plane before she could believe he was being released.

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