Refugee soccer player Hakeem al-Araibi is on his way back to Australia after being released from jail in Thailand.
The 25-year-old was detained in Bangkok for two months over claims he attacked a police station in Bahrain using petrol bombs during the 2011 Arab Spring uprising.
Director of the Thai attorney-general’s international affairs section, Chatchom Akapin, said Bahrain requested that its extradition case be dropped.
Refugee soccer star Hakeem al-Araibi was photographed on a plane as he left Bangkok headed back to Australia after two months detained in Bangkok
Araibi at Bangkok Airport preparing to board his flight back to Australia on Monday morning
Extradition proceedings were then dropped by the Criminal Court on Monday afternoon, allowing him to return to Australia.
Araibi was photographed on a plane as he left Bangkok, which was posted to Twitter by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
‘Hakeem al-Araibi is on his way home to his wife and family. I want to thank all Australians for their support in achieveing (sic) this outcome,’ he wrote.
‘We are grateful to the Thai Government and thank them for the way they have engaged with us to enable Hakeem to return to Australia.’
Mr Morrison added that he ‘appreciated the constructive dialogue we’ve had with Bahrain to resolve this’.
However, despite his portrayal of warm diplomacy, Bahrain hauled in Australia’s ambassador in response to Araibi getting on the plane.
Araibi with a supporter after he was released from jail and heading for the airport
Extradition proceedings were dropped by the Criminal Court on Monday afternoon, allowing him to return to Australia
Al-Araibi was detained in Bangkok for two months over claims he attacked a police station using petrol bombs during the Arab Spring uprising
Foreign minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa then gave Ambassador Ridwaan Jadwat ‘relevant court documents’ related to al-Araibi’s extradition, including an international arrest warrant.
It was unclear whether the kingdom was now asking Australia to extradite Araibi to Bahrain after he landed.
‘The aforementioned convictions are the legal basis on which the extradition request to Australian authorities was sought by the Ministry of Justice through diplomatic channels,’ Mr Al Khalifa said.
Mr Chatchom told BBC Thai country’s the Foreign Ministry told them Bahrain wanted to drop the case, but he did not know the reason why.
‘The court will now issue an order to release Mr Hakeem from jail today,’ he said on Monday.
‘There are no grounds to hold him anymore. It is his right to decide where he will go next. He is a free man.’
Thai officials said Bahrain requested that its extradition case be dropped
Al-Araibi (pictured centre) was detained when he arrived in Bangkok in November, and a court ruled in December that he could be held for 60 days
The detention of Araibi, who appeared at a court hearing in shackles last week, drew international criticism, with Australian authorities and fellow footballers urging Thailand to release him.
He said he faced torture if returned to Bahrain.
Araibi fled Bahrain in 2014 and received refugee status in Australia before being arrested in November at a Bangkok airport while on a honeymoon trip following an Interpol notice issued at Bahrain’s request.
Monday’s development followed an appeal to the Thai prime minister from two Australian divers who helped save 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave.
Araibi was convicted of vandalising a police station during 2011 anti-government protests in Bahrain and sentenced to 10 years jail in absentia after he fled.
He denied the charges, saying he was playing in a televised soccer match at the time of the attack.
Araibi also believed he was targeted for arrest because of his Shiite faith and because his brother was politically active in Bahrain.
New York-based Human Rights Watch claimed Araibi was tortured by Bahraini authorities because of his brother’s political activities during the 2011 protests.
The 25-year-old (pictured) is alleged to have vandalised a police station, and if he is extradited and is convicted in Bahrain, he could face up to 10- years in jail
Bahraini authorities deny allegations of torture.
The federal opposition believes Australian authorities now have questions to answer over the affair.
‘I think one of the key issues is whether the automated Interpol red notice system is fit-for-purpose when it comes to people like Hakeem who are refugees,’ shadow foreign minister Penny Wong told ABC radio.
‘I think that needs to be explored.’
Australian Federal Police notified Thailand that al-Araibi was on his way and subject to an Interpol red notice, without mentioning he was a refugee with Australian protection.
Senator Wong intends to pursue the issue during budget estimates hearings in Canberra next week.
‘I’d encourage the government to be upfront about this,’ she said.
‘I think the Australian community does want to know how this occurred, and we do need to consider whether the system is fit-for-purpose.’
Greens leader Richard Di Natale wants to launch an inquiry into the issue.
Al-Araibi (pictured) believes he was targeted for arrest because of his Shiite faith and because his brother was politically active in Bahrain