Hakeem Al-Araibi To Be Freed After Thai Court Drops Extradition Case

Clay Curtis
February 11, 2019

Refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi will not be sent back to Bahrain after Thailand dropped extradition proceedings against him on the Gulf State's request, a prosecutor said Monday.

However, the Middle East nation has withdrawn the request, leading a Thai court to approve a motion by prosecutors to drop the case against the footballer, said Chatchom Akapin, an official in the Thai Attorney-General's office.

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.

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 release imminently.

Al-Araibi, who fled Bahrain in 2014 before being granted permanent residence in Australia, was arrested while on honeymoon in Bangkok in November.

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"The Thai government should see that Bahrain's sole motive is to further punish Hakeem for the peaceful political opinions he expressed", Amnesty International Thailand campaigner Katherine Gerson said in an earlier statement.

He was sentenced in absentia to 10 years for vandalising a police station. The refugee footballer will be returned to Australia after months of pressure from rights groups, former Socceroos, the Australian government and even the heroes of the Thai cave rescue.

"We have been informed that Bahrain wants to withdraw the (extradition) request".

She said she requested his release on bail but it was denied because the court deemed him a flight risk.

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