Hakeem Al-Araibi to be released by Thailand court

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

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

Dissident Bahraini soccer player Hakeem al-Araibi, photographed Feb.4 as he left court in Bangkok, was released a week later after prosecutors said they were no longer seeking his extradition to Bahrain.

Chatchom Akapin, director-general of the International Affairs Department, said the Foreign Ministry had informed his office that Bahrain has made a decision to withdraw its extradition request, hence there is no reason to keep al-Araibi in detention.

Reports from the ABC and BBC say Al-Araibi, who has refugee status in Australia, is set to be released.

The player's Australia lawyer Latifa Al-Haouli of Sabelberg Morcos Lawyers, told SBS News on Monday legal staff were working with Thailand's department of corrections to secure Mr Al-Araibi's return to Australia.

But Araibi says the case is bogus and tied to his criticism of Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, a member of Bahrain's ruling family.

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Mr Al-Araibi was detained at Bangkok airport on November 27 when he arrived in Thailand for his honeymoon with his wife. Araibi has lived in Australia since 2014 and plays there for a local soccer club.

Former Socceroos captain Craig Foster has built a global coalition of sporting bodies and stars - from both within football and the wider sports community - to call for Hakeem's release and pressure Thailand to return him to Australia.

"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.

Separately, BNA said Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa met Sunday with Thailand's foreign minister who was visiting the island.

"Many wonderful people stepped forward to help Hakeem, " he wrote Monday in comments on Twitter.

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Bahrain's reversal of Araibi's extradition is surprising. "They all deserve to be in front of camera now, not only me".

Araibi was convicted of vandalising a police station during the 2011 anti-government protests in Bahrain and sentenced in absentia after he fled.

Australian police acknowledge doing so, but there have been questions raised about why the Red Notice appeared to have been issued just before al-Araibi departed on his trip, and whether Bahraini authorities had been tipped off about his travel plans.

Human rights activists in Bahrain have also welcomed the news.

"As prime minister, I'm pleased Hakeem is coming home, and I'll be pleased to see him at home when that occurs", Morrison said.

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