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Bahraini Refugee: Thai court orders release of Hakeem al Araibi

12 February 2019

"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.

Bahraini refugee, Hakeem Al-Araibi leaves Thailand's Criminal Court, in Bangkok, Thailand 04 February, 2019.

Monday's development follows an appeal, reported by media on Saturday, to the Thai prime minister from two Australian divers who helped save 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave. Morrison cautioned, however, "as is always in these cases, people aren't home until they're home".

On Monday, Chachom Akabin, director of the worldwide affairs division of the Thai attorney general's office, told reporters that Bahrain no longer wanted to take legal action against Araibi, so his office dropped the case.

Authorities in Bahrain, which has accused Araibi of crimes committed during the Arab Spring protests of 2011, said the country reaffirmed its right to pursue legal action against him, however.

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Detained Nov. 27 at the start of what was meant to be a honeymoon in Thailand, the former Bahrain national team player is wanted back in the kingdom for an arson attack on a police station in 2012 for which he was sentenced in absentia.

A journalist from the BBC said negotiations between Thailand and Bahrain led to the agreement to drop the extradition request. He believed he was targeted because of his Shiite faith and because his brother was politically active in Bahrain, which has a Shiite majority but is ruled by a Sunni monarchy.

Bahraini authorities deny allegations of torture.

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

He is expected to fly home to his wife in Melbourne tonight, arriving in Melbourne around 1pm tomorrow. He was granted asylum there in 2017 and has maintained that he would be tortured or worse if he were to return to Bahrain. Human Rights Watch's director of global initiatives, Minky Worden, wrote on Saturday that the Bahraini request to extradite Araibi represented "naked political persecution". "My life is in danger".

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Football Federation Australia have been slammed over their response to the release of Australian footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi. Yet, Australia's Embassy in Thailand released a statement indicating it may have contributed to his arrest in Bangkok by notifying Thailand of his travel.

Al-Araibi fled Bahrain in 2014 and was granted refugee status by Australia where he plays soccer for semi-professional Melbourne club Pascoe Vale.

"Australia is reviewing our procedures so that this does not happen again", the Embassy said. On Monday, they celebrated news of his release.

"We have seen our community unite in an extraordinary way over the past few months to campaign for Hakeem's release".

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Bahraini Refugee: Thai court orders release of Hakeem al Araibi