Australia PM piles pressure on Thailand to free footballer


Despite calls from Australia for the Thai government to intervene and secure Al- Araibi's release, the Office of the Attorney-General said on Wednesday the case would proceed and the footballer was likely to be in custody until at least August.

Football Federation Australia announced Wednesday it had scrapped the game against China, a scheduled warmup ahead of next month's qualifiers for the Asian under-23 championships.

Al-Araibi, who has refugee protection status in Australia, was arrested in November when he arrived in Thailand on holiday, after Bahrain sent the country an extradition request.

Bahrain fails to mention the court ignored evidence that only minutes before the time of the alleged crime, Al-Araibi was playing in a televised football match broadcast on national television.

"Indeed, we would not have become involved in the issue had we not received the red notice alert from the Australian Interpol and the subsequent formal request by Bahrain for his arrest and extradition".

Bahrain has submitted documents including the arrest warrant to back its request for the Thai Court to extradite Al-Araibi.

Australian officials have also been pressing the Bahraini government, Morrison said.

A chained al-Araibi yelled to reporters outside court as he was escorted by prison guards into Monday's hearing in Bangkok.

Mr Araibi, 25, a former Bahraini national team player, says he fled his home country due to political repression.

'I miss my wife, she is alone in Melbourne. "Hakeem, Australia is with you, mate", Foster shouted.

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Araibi's soccer club, Pascoe Vale, said in a tweet: "Our hearts are broken.we registered him today for the 2019 season".

And I'd simply say this, it is within the executive authority of the Thai government to actually enable him under their law to be returned to Australia.

While his lawyer is seeking bail for al-Araibi, the public prosecutors yesterday said they would oppose bail, citing flight risk.

She added: "Mr al-Araibi is a refugee and a permanent resident of Australia and the government remains deeply concerned by his ongoing detention in Thailand".

Al-Araibi has lived in Australia for about five years with refugee status and Australian residency after fleeing what he described as torture in his native nation.

On Tuesday FFA pledged $10,000 to kick-start fundraising efforts to help continue the global advocacy campaign to return al-Araibi to Australia.

He is fighting an extradition order to send him back to Bahrain, where he fears he will be imprisoned and tortured, as he alleges occurred in 2012.

New York-based Human Rights Watch has said Araibi was tortured by Bahraini authorities because of his brother's political activities during the 2011 protests.

He has remained in the Bangkok immigration jail pending extradition trial ever since.

Under global law, it is prohibited to return an individual to a territory place when there is a reasonable fear that the individual will be at real risk of suffering torture or other serious human rights violations.