Friday, 22 February, 2019

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

Wanderers Thai Airways Thailand to free Bahraini footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi
Ellis Copeland | 11 February, 2019, 12:27

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.

He was sentenced in absentia to 10 years for vandalising a police station.

Mr Araibi was granted refugee status in Australia after fleeing charges in Bahrain connected to Arab Spring protests but was stopped in Thailand in November attempting to go on his honeymoon.

He left Bahrain for Australia in 2014, which granted him political asylum in 2017.

Al-Araibi plays for Pascoe Vale FC in Melbourne.

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

Former Socceroo Craig Foster tweeted, "thanks go to the wonderful people of Thailand for your support and to Thai Government for upholding global law". "He is at grave risk of unjust imprisonment, torture and other ill-treatment if he is returned to Bahrain".

The Guardian has been told by Gulf democracy advocates and al-Araibi's Thai lawyer that the Thai government has pulled the extradition case out of the courts.

Federico Addiechi, a representative of Fifa, football's world governing body, attended a Feb 4 hearing and said the organisation would continue to support Mr Araibi.

A journalist from the BBC said negotiations between Thailand and Bahrain led to the agreement to drop the extradition request. "It is a commitment enshrined in our human rights policy", he said. She said "a great deal" of work had gone on behind the scenes.

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