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Bahraini footballer Hakeem al-Araibi saved from extradition following Thai court order

Araibi has been held in detention in Thailand since November 2018 [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 February, 2019

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It follows a request from a Thai attorney general to drop the case to extradite Bahraini refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi.

A Thai court approved on Monday an attorney general's request to end efforts to extradite a Bahraini footballer who fears detention and torture in the Gulf state, Reuters reported on Monday.

The attorney general requested that the case against Hakeem al-Araibi be dropped on Monday, a prosecutor with knowledge of the case said, with the court agreeing to cancel any plans for his deportation.

Human rights groups who have campaigned against Araibi's deportation to Bahrain - where they feared he could be tortured - welcomed to move.

"Today's decision is an example of the impact of solidarity with refugees, and a victory for people power," Amnesty's International's Senior Director of Global Operations Minar Pimple said in a statement.

He called Bahrain's extradition request a "baseless and cynical" attempt to "punish Hakeem for his peaceful political views".

"It is only right that he should go back to Australia - where his family, his football club, and the country that gave him sanctuary are waiting," he said

Araibi, a former player in Bahrain's national football team, fled Manama in 2014 to seek asylum in Australia, where he now holds permanent resident status and plays for Pascoe Vale football club.

The footballer claims he sought asylum in Australia due to political repression and the risk of torture in his home country. Araibi pleaded with prosecutors on 4 February "don't send me back to Bahrain".

Thailand arrested Araibi in November after he travelled to the country for his honeymoon due to an Interpol red notice issued by Bahrain, calling for his extradition for allegedly vandalising a police station during anti-government protests.

Araibi was convicted in absentia for the case but claims he was out of the country at the time competing in a football match.

He has been held in detention since November 2018 while the Thai courts deliberated as to whether to deport the footballer back to Bahrain.

His case follows the highly-publicised detention of a Saudi woman who fled to kingdom to Thailand following alleged abuse at the hands of her family.

Using social media, she highlighted her case and pleaded for action to prevent her deportation back to Saudi Arabia, where she feared for her life.

Following international outcry, Rahaf al-Qunun her deportation was stalled and she was eventually given asylum in Canada.

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