Thailand tells Australia and Bahrain to cooperate over Hakeem al-Araibi

Thailand tells Australia and Bahrain to cooperate over Hakeem al-Araibi

Having played semi-professional football for Pascoe Vale in Australia, where he obtained refugee status in 2017, Al-Araibi has been training inside detention to ensure he's ready to play upon his release.

The Australia U-23s were scheduled to train in the country and also play China in a friendly match in Bangkok as part of their preparations for the 2020 AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers which are to be held in Cambodia from March 22.

In a move to move the attention away from Thailand, Thai Foreign Minister Don Paramudvinai says Australia and Bahrain should hold talks to resolve the case by having him sent to a third country instead of extraditing him to Bahrain to face imprisonment or by sending him to his requested country of asylum, Australia.

Thailand faces increasing worldwide pressure for the detention and possible extradition of a Bahraini football player as a social media campaign takes off for his release.

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

Thailand on Wednesday defended its arrest of a Bahraini footballer with refugee status in Australia, saying officials only detained him because Australian authorities sent an Interpol "red notice" after he boarded a plane to Bangkok.

Worldwide condemnation of al-Araibi's treatment has focused on Thailand's role, particularly since it was confirmed the government has the power to release him.

On Monday the Thai criminal court gave al-Araibi's lawyers 60 days to prepare a defence to Bahrain's request and refused bail.

Hakeem al-Araibi, a Bahraini refugee and Australian resident, is escorted to a courtroom in Bangkok February 4, 2019.

"Thailand hopes that Australia and Bahrain will have the goodwill to earnestly work together towards finding a win-win solution to this issue", the ministry's statement said.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2014 for allegedly vandalising a police station during Arab Spring protests in Bahrain, charges he strongly denies.

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He was arrested by Thai authorities on November 27 at Bahrain's request.

The case has also drawn appeals from Australia's prime minister and soccer's world governing body, FIFA.

Former Australia national football team captain Craig Foster, who has been lobbying for al-Araibi's release, shouted words of encouragement to the jailed player.

"The smile when he heard about [Chiellini] and [Drogba], never seen anything like it - a footballer's passion never dies", Foster wrote.

"I've written to him again, because I was very disturbed at the appearance of Hakeem at the hearing the other day", Scott Morrison said.

"We are in the process of rearranging our pre-tournament camp in another Asian nation".

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne called on Thai authorities to use their discretion in Araibi's case.

"So between now and then, Mr Araibi will have to be in custody at least until August", Mr Trumph said.

Bahraini authorities deny allegations of torture.

He said Federation Internationale de Football Association has not discussed imposing sanctions on either Bahrain or Thailand over the case.

"Thailand's office of the Attorney-General has publicly confirmed that Thailand's Extradition Act allows for executive discretion in such cases".

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