Thailand to free Bahraini footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi

A Sad, Shocking Week That Tested Football’s Heart

Refugee footballer will not be extradited to Bahrain: Thai prosecutor

Australian footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi has been released from Thai prison and is heading home, after prosecutors dropped the push to extradite him back to Bahrain.

He said the extradition case against Mr Al-Araibi was dropped by the Criminal Court on Monday afternoon.

He eventually made it to Australia, where he was granted refugee status.

Former Socceroos captain Craig Foster has been leading the campaign to free Al-Araibi, regularly jetting from Australia to Bangkok, while also visiting FIFA's headquarters in Zurich to discuss the saga.

Refugee footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi in Bangkok.

The player fled Bahrain in 2014 and now plays for semi-professional Melbourne-based club Pascoe Vale. 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.

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"The Thai government should see that Bahrain's sole motive is to further punish Hakeem for the peaceful political opinions he expressed", Amnesty International Thailand campaigner Katherine Gerson said in an earlier statement.

The 25-year-old fears being returned to Bahrain where he believes he could face imprisonment and torture.

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

Chatchom added that the process to release Araibi is under way.

"We had a phone call from the Foreign Affairs Ministry this morning and they said Bahrain doesn't want him anymore", Chatchom told BBC. She said "a great deal" of work had gone on behind the scenes.

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