Thai court orders release of Bahrain refugee soccer player

Thai court orders release of Bahrain refugee soccer player

Federation Internationale de Football Association is extremely pleased to see Hakeem Al-Araibi released from prison in Thailand and allowed to travel back to his home in Australia.

The director general, Chatchom Akapin, said they made the decision after Thailand's foreign ministry sent his department a letter Monday morning that indicated that Bahrain had withdrawn its request for al-Araibi.

Hakeen al-Araibi, 25, who had been living as a refugee in Australia with permanent resident status will return there, the country's prime minister, Scott Morrison, said.

A similar campaign was launched on behalf of Araibi by human rights groups, fellow soccer players and other activists - including the heroes who helped save a Thai soccer team trapped in a cave previous year - with the hashtag #SaveHakeem.

Former Socceroos captain and SBS chief football analyst Craig Foster voiced his support for Al-Araibi throughout his time in prison and took to Twitter to thank the Thai Government.

Thailand's Foreign Ministry said in a statement last week that al-Araibi was detained because Australian authorities had forwarded them an Interpol Red Notice that Bahrain was seeking his arrest.

Former Socceroo Craig Foster tweeted, "thanks go to the wonderful people of Thailand for your support and to Thai Government for upholding global law".

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"Now the next step is for him to return home", Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

But the soccer player disputed the charges, telling The New York Times that his innocence was easily documented because he appeared in a live televised match at the time of the incident.

Officials in Bahrain, an island kingdom off the coast of Saudi Arabia that's home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, said the country "reaffirms its right to pursue all necessary legal actions against" al-Araibi. My thoughts are with Hakeem's wife.

The state-run Bahrain News Agency reported Sunday that Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa had a phone call with Thai Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, but offered no specifics on their discussions. Her nightmare will shortly be at an end.

A Bahraini court sentenced him in absentia to 10 years in prison over claims by Bahraini authorities that he and a group of protesters attacked a police station with petrol bombs during the Arab Spring uprising.

Human rights activists in Bahrain have also welcomed the news.

Mr Araibi has said he was blindfolded and had his legs beaten while he was held in Bahrain previously.

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