Bahrain refugee footballer free as Thailand drops extradition bid

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The director general of the attorney general office's global affairs department said prosecutors on Monday 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.

That was after Bahrain withdrew its request to have him extradited on an worldwide arrest warrant.

Mr Araibi, 25, a former Bahraini national team player, has said he fled his home country due to political repression.

The statement has been slammed by fans, given Bahrain had said al-Araibi's conviction remains in place and "Bahrain reaffirms its right to pursue all necessary legal actions against Mr al-Araibi".

"This morning the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed us that Bahrain was no longer interested in this request", OAG foreign office chief Chatchom Akapin said. He said he believed he was targeted for arrest because of his Shiite faith and because his brother was politically active in Bahrain.


Sounds familiar: Even a Bahrain government-ordered investigation reported deaths from torture in 2011 and said detainees were electrocuted, beaten on the soles of their feet, otherwise abused and reported being squeezed into tiny cells, sexually assaulted and other horrors.

"As prime minister, I'm pleased Hakeem is coming home, and I'll be pleased to see him at home when that occurs", Morrison said.

Bahrain footballer Hakeem al-Araibi is brought to the Criminal Court in Bangkok on Feb 4 for an extradition request from Bahrain.

"I would like to say thanks to Australia".

"This is a win for humanity, for the power of citizens of the world demanding that human rights be protected", Foster said in a statement.


Around the time of his arrest in Bahrain, Arab Spring uprisings were upending establishments across the Middle East and Bahrain, a small island nation in the Persian Gulf, was cracking down on its own pro-democracy demonstrators. In 2014, Bahrain convicted him in abstentia and sentenced him to a decade in prison.

He was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison and left for Australia.

"Bahrain is a state that has no human rights", al-Araibi told Human Rights Watch from a Thai detention center in December.

An Interpol red notice had been issued for Araibi's detention by Bahrain, but the notice should never have been issued as refugees can not be returned to the country from which they have fled. The Australian Government was not initially aware of this, and in line with Interpol procedure notified Thailand of Mr Alaraibi's travel. On Monday, they celebrated news of his release.

"Our special thanks to the Australian football community and Hakeem's colleagues; particularly to the former Australia worldwide footballer Craig Foster, who has honestly put nothing before this appalling case and has never lost any chance but to save Hakeem. It is a commitment enshrined in our human rights policy", he said.


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