Thai court orders release of refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi

Detained Bahraini soccer player Hakeem al Araibi arrives at the criminal court in Bangkok Thailand

Detained Bahraini soccer player Hakeem al Araibi arrives at the criminal court in Bangkok Thailand

The extradition case against refugee footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi has been dropped and he will be flying home soon, the Thai attorney-general's office has confirmed.

Monday brought a stunning about-turn from the Bahraini government, which withdrew the extradition request, said Chatchom Akapin, Director-General of the International Affairs Department at the prosecutor's office.

The Pascoe Vale FC footballer has been given political asylum in Australia as a refugee since fleeing Bahrain five years ago after he was jailed and tortured for protesting against the Bahrain government.

The 25-year-old travelled to Thailand on his honeymoon and was arrested upon arrival on November 27, detained on an Interpol notice issued at Bahrain's request.

Australia's prime minister has thanked Thailand for its decision to no longer seek the extradition to Bahrain of a refugee soccer player who lives in Melbourne.

On social network Twitter, former Australia soccer captain Craig Foster, who had helped lobby officials at world governing body Federation Internationale de Football Association, said, "My thanks go to the wonderful people of Thailand for your support and to the Thai government for upholding global law".

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.

"Many wonderful people stepped forward to help Hakeem, " he wrote Monday in comments on Twitter.

"They blindfolded me", he told the Times in 2016. I can't list them, but will thank each of them in time.

It still remains unclear when Bahrain withdrew its extradition request.

The state-run Bahrain News Agency reported Sunday that Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa had a phone call with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, but offered no specifics on their discussions. Her nightmare will shortly be at an end.

Australian police acknowledge doing so, but there have been questions raised about why the Red Notice appeared to have been issued just before al-Araibi departed on his trip, and whether Bahraini authorities had been tipped off about his travel plans.

The Bangkok court previously set an April 22 date for the next hearing.

The Australian government, Fifa and other football bodies have also supported his case.

However Bahrain has reiterated their arrest warrant for Hakeem is still current and will seize him if he returns to the country of his birth.

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