Hakeem al-Araibi: Thailand to free refugee footballer


What began as a honeymoon turned into a two-month nightmare, but at last Hakeem al-Araibi's ordeal is over.

Shortly afterwards the court approved the withdrawal request and ordered Bangkok Remand Prison to release the man who became the subject of a mass social media campaign using the hashtag #SaveHakeem. They doubt Bahrain's statements that he would be fairly treated if returned.

The movement to save Hakeem Al-Araibi has spread across the footballing world.

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.

Former Socceroos captain and prominent broadcaster Craig Foster led the campaign to have him freed.

Araibi, a former Bahraini national youth team player, was granted refugee status in Australia after fleeing charges in the oil-rich kingdom connected to Arab Spring protests.

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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.

Araibi has said he wants to return to Australia, where he has lived since 2014 and plays for a Melbourne football club.

Al-Araibi has said he was blindfolded and had his legs beaten when he was held in Bahrain previously. There was no global reaction for previous renditions from Thailand of refugees and asylum-seekers to countries where campaigners said they risked ill-treatment.

In addition to thanking Thailand, Morrison said Australians "greatly appreciate their listening to the issues that have been raised by our government and many others who have raised this case".

"Fifa is committed to protecting human rights".

Court spokesman Suriyan Hongvilai said Monday that Hakeem al-Araibi was now being processed for release.