Human Rights Activists Hail Dissident Bahraini Soccer Star's Release From Thai Jail

4 2019 Hakeem al-Araibi a Bahraini refugee and Australian resident is escorted to a courtroom in Bangkok

4 2019 Hakeem al-Araibi a Bahraini refugee and Australian resident is escorted to a courtroom in Bangkok

Bahrain has now dropped an extradition request made to Thailand, paving the way for Al-Araibi to return to Australia.

Australian footballer and refugee Hakeem al-Araibi has arrived home in Melbourne after being freed from the Thai prison where he was held awaiting an extradition hearing.

In a statement, world players' union FIFPro said it was delighted that Al-Araibi had been released.

It was not immediately clear when or why Bahrain withdrew its request.

Al-Alraibi had the right to appeal the ruling, while the Bahraini government reaffirmed its right to pursue all necessary legal action against him. Araibi denies the charges, saying he was playing in a televised soccer match at the time of the police station attack.

The 25 year old will now be re-united with his wife back in Melbourne.

Morrison, the Australian prime minister, had in recent weeks has spoken out strongly on behalf of al-Araibi's freedom.

A Thai court approved the request to drop extradition proceedings, according to Chatchom Akapin, director general of Foreign Affairs for the Office of the Attorney General. He was detained upon his arrival in Bangkok in November while on a holiday at the request of Bahrain relayed through Interpol - from the global police body's Australian office.

He was convicted of vandalising a police station during 2011 anti-government protests in Bahrain and sentenced to ten years behind bars in absentia after he fled.

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He fled to Australia in 2014, where he settled in Melbourne and was granted political asylum.

"The football family looks forward to welcoming Hakeem home and providing him with ongoing support after such a hard period", chairman Chris Nikou said.

A court filing from Thai prosecutors had noted that while Thailand and Bahrain do not have an extradition treaty, extradition is still possible by law if Bahrain makes an official request - which it did - and if the crime is punishable by more than a year's imprisonment and is not politically motivated or a military violation.

An Interpol red notice had been issued for Araibi's detention by Bahrain, but the notice should never have been issued as refugees can not be returned to the country from which they have fled.

Human rights group Amnesty International, which had lobbied for his release, welcomed Thailand's move.

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said that Thailand was caught in the middle of a conflict between Bahrain and Australia and it had nothing to gain from detaining the Bahraini.

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".

"We salute the tireless campaigning of Craig Foster and Professional Footballers Australia to secure Hakeem's release".

In a statement provided to Guardian Australia, they said they were "heartened" to see pictures of his release, but urged the world not to turn away from those still unjustly detained in Bahrain.

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