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Thailand frees jailed Bahraini footballer

Hakeem al-Araibi's release comes as Bahrain drops extradition request on footballer held in Thai jail since last November

  | 11.02.2019
Thailand frees jailed Bahraini footballer

By Riyaz ul Khaliq

ANKARA 

Buddhist-majority Thailand has freed a jailed Bahraini footballer after Manama withdrew an extradition request on him, media reports said.

A Bangkok court on Monday ordered the release of Hakeem al-Araibi shortly after a Thai public prosecutor asked the court to scrap an earlier ruling to extradite the 25-year-old footballer.

Al-Araibi was detained in Thailand since last November after arriving in the country’s capital with his wife.

Bahrain had sought his extradition to the country where al-Araibi was wanted in a 2014 case related to the 2011 anti-government protests in Manama.

Al-Araibi has rejected all charges against him as "politically-motivated", arguing that he was playing in a televised football match at the time the alleged offenses were committed.

He has been living in Australia as a refugee since 2014 after he fled his Bahrain fearing for his life.

The detention of al-Araibi generated a global outrage against Thailand and Bahrain with Australian premier writing twice to the Thai junta to release the footballer who plays for a Melbourne club.

Although Thailand and Bahrain do not have a mutual extradition agreement, Thai prosecutors had accepted the extradition request arguing that Bahrain "promised reciprocal treatment of Thais in future".

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