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Hakeem al-Araibi: Thailand frees refugee footballer

Hakeem al-Araibi being escorted to a courtroom in Bangkok (file photo 4 February) Symbol copyright AFP

A soccer participant and refugee whose detention in Thailand sparked an outcry has been free of prison after Bahrain withdrew its extradition request.

Hakeem al-Araibi, who’s a Bahraini citizen, fled to Australia in 2014 and used to be granted political asylum.

He used to be detained in Bangkok in November on an Interpol realize asked by way of Bahrain. He had travelled to the Thai capital on honeymoon.

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

Al-Araibi, 25, denies the costs. Human rights activists say he may face torture if despatched again to Bahrain, the place he used to be a vocal critic of the government.

His case has been taken up by way of high-profile footballers, with stars together with Didier Drogba and Jamie Vardy calling for his free up. The Australian govt, soccer’s global governing frame Fifa and the World Olympic Committee all lobbied Thailand.

Thailand’s Workplace of the Lawyer Normal (OAG) requested the courtroom to finish complaints in opposition to al-Araibi as a result of Bahrain had stated it not sought after him, officers instructed BBC Thai on Monday.

“This morning the Ministry of Overseas Affairs knowledgeable us that Bahrain used to be not on this request,” OAG international place of business leader Chatchom Akapin stated.

Al-Araibi is predicted to depart Thailand on Monday night for Australia.

Bahrain’s international ministry stated that in spite of the top of the extradition complaints, the footballer’s conviction nonetheless stood. “The Kingdom of Bahrain reaffirms its proper to pursue all vital felony movements in opposition to Mr al-Araibi,” it added.

The Thai international minister used to be in Bahrain over the weekend for an legit consult with and met senior leaders.

Bahrain’s international ministry on Monday stated that in spite of the top of the extradition complaints, the footballer’s conviction nonetheless stood. “The Kingdom of Bahrain reaffirms its proper to pursue all vital felony movements in opposition to Mr al-Araibi,” it added.

Craig Foster, a former Australian nationwide soccer captain and TV host who spearheaded the marketing campaign to unfastened al-Araibi, stated there have been “tears” in his family “presently”.

He instructed the BBC that it used to be “an abnormal day”. “Sanity has prevailed, global regulation has been upheld,” he stated, including he used to be satisfied that soccer had “stepped ahead”.

There have been complaint that soccer our bodies, together with Fifa, had no longer first of all lobbied strongly sufficient on behalf of al-Araibi. Mr Foster and international gamers’ union FIFPro had prompt Fifa to threaten wearing sanctions in opposition to Bahrain and Thailand.

Australian High Minister Scott Morrison instructed newshounds in Canberra that he thanked Bangkok for “being attentive to the problems” Australia had raised.

“Now your next step is for him to go back house. However because it all the time is in those circumstances, other people don’t seem to be house till they are house,” he stated.

Al-Araibi performs for Pascoe Vale FC in Melbourne.

Closing month, his spouse instructed the BBC that extradition would put him in peril.

“I am calling on each and every nation to lend a hand Hakeem as a result of I do know if he will get taken again, he’ll be tortured, and he’ll be killed,” she stated.

However Bahrain stated al-Araibi have been sentenced by way of an unbiased judiciary “on fees involving severe violence and criminal activity, unrelated to any imaginable freedom of opinion/expression problems”.

It stated his protection can be “assured” if he returned to Bahrain to enchantment in opposition to the sentence.

Symbol copyright EPA
Symbol caption Hakeem’s arrest brought about an outcry in Australia

Human rights activists lauded Monday’s information.

“This can be a massive victory for the human rights motion in Bahrain, Thailand and Australia, or even the entire international,” stated Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, London-based marketing campaign team.

“Hakeem’s ordeal ended after 70 days when there used to be a transparent public stance and unity motion. The soccer neighborhood, the human rights motion and all of those that devoted their time and efforts to finish this injustice have been rewarded.”

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