Hakeem al-Araibi: Refugee footballer to be freed by Thai authorities

February 11, 2019

Refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi, held in Thailand while on honeymoon, is to be freed after a Thai court ordered his release.

Court spokesman Suriyan Hongvilai said al-Araibi, who lives and plays in Australia, was being processed for release and reports in Thailand say he has already left the remand prison where he was being held.

Reuters, quoting a Thai official, has said the Bahrain national will be freed by the end of the day after the Gulf state dropped its extradition request.

The player's lawyer has told Sky News a Thai court has approved the attorney general's request to drop the extradition case against al-Araibi.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs would not comment, saying: "The case is still in the judicial process."

The player, 25, who had been granted asylum by Australia, where he played, was arrested by Thai authorities in November following an Interpol red notice which was later revoked.

At a hearing a week ago, al-Araibi pleaded with a judge "don't send me to Bahrain," as he appeared barefoot and shackled at a court in Bangkok.

Speaking to Sky News before his appearance, he said he feared he would never see his wife again if he was extradited to Bahrain.

"Maybe they will kill me but 100% I know they will beat me because they beat me when I was 17," he said.

Al-Araibi, a critic of the Bahrain government and royal family, was accused of committing an act of vandalism on a police station in 2014, despite the fact he was playing in a televised football match at the time of the alleged crime.

Bahrain officials denied his claim that his life was in danger if he returned.

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