Published: Tue, February 12, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

Hakeem Al-Araibi will walk free after Bahrain drops extradition request

Hakeem Al-Araibi will walk free after Bahrain drops extradition request

The Criminal Court has freed refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi after Bahrain dropped its extradition request, a public prosecutor said on Monday, following a global outcry over the risks he faced if sent back 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.

Hakeem Al Araibi, 25, who fled Bahrain in 2014 and received refugee status in Australia, was arrested in November previous year at a Bangkok airport while on a honeymoon trip, following an Interpol notice issued at Bahrain's request.

Supporters attend a rally in Melbourne this month seeking Hakeem Al-Araibi's release.

Hakeem al-Araibi, a refugee soccer player from Bahrain, leaves criminal court in Bangkok on February 4. He has been living in Melbourne, where he plays for a semi-professional team.

Former Socceroos captain and prominent broadcaster Craig Foster led the campaign to have him freed who said many wonderful people had stepped forward to help Hakeem.

"We had a phone call from the Foreign Affairs Ministry this morning and they said Bahrain doesn't want him anymore", Chatchom said.

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Separately, BNA said Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa had met Thailand's foreign minister, who was visiting the island, on Sunday. Instead, he was taken into custody on an Interpol "red notice" issued by Bahrain, allowing Thai police to provisionally arrest him pending extradition. "They all deserve to be in front of camera now, not only me".

Alqunun fled her family to Bangkok while on holiday in Kuwait but was detained by authorities shortly after arrival.

On Monday, prosecutors 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.

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.

The Bangkok court previously set an April 22 date for the next hearing.

However Bahrain has reiterated their arrest warrant for Hakeem is still current and will seize him if he returns to the country of his birth.

"Fifa is committed to protecting human rights".

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