Published: Mon, February 11, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Hakeem al-Araibi: Thailand to free refugee footballer

Hakeem al-Araibi: Thailand to free refugee footballer

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.

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.

Al-Araibi has refugee status in Australia.

He was detained in Bangkok in November on an Interpol notice requested by Bahrain.

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

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

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


The pity is, the past two months of detention and fears he would be tortured on return to Bahrain could have all been avoided.

The Guardian has been told by Gulf democracy advocates and al-Araibi's Thai lawyer that the Thai government has pulled the extradition case out of the courts.

A court filing from Thai prosecutors had noted that while Thailand and Bahrain do not have an extradition treaty, extradition is still possible by law if Bahrain makes an official request - which it did - and if the crime is punishable by more than a year's imprisonment and is not politically motivated or a military violation.

"Fifa is committed to protecting human rights".

Foreign minister Marise Payne said there were still "a number of steps to go in this process" but said al-Araibi would hopefully be back in Australia in the next day or so.

Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had no comment on the case.

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