'Don't send me to Bahrain': Refugee footballer pleads in Bangkok


They have until April 5 to file the written objection and both sides will present their evidence in court on April 22.

The campaign ramped up this afternoon after al-Araibi appeared on Monday in the Bangkok Criminal Court, shackled and in a beige prison uniform and formally refused Bahrain's request to be returned to his homeland.

Supporters say that Araibi, as a recognized refugee, should be released and sent back to Australia instead.

The footballer was detained upon his arrival in Bangkok in November while on a delayed honeymoon and, despite having been assured by Australian authorities that his status as a refugee would protect him, he was detained on arrival by Thai police acting on an Interpol red notice issued at Bahrain's request. Such notices are not supposed to be given to refugees.

"Be strong. Football is with you", former Australia national soccer team captain Craig Foster said to Araibi outside court.

Bahrain seeks his extradition over vandalism charges dating back to 2012.

Al-Araibi is wanted by Bahrain for allegedly vandalising a police station during anti-government protests.

His detention in Thailand has provoked widespread worldwide support in his favour. "Hakeem, Australia is with you, mate", Mr Foster shouted.

His case has also been raised by Labour MP Dr. Rosena Allin-Khan, who confirmed via a tweet that she had asked Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to act in aiding the footballer "escape torture".

He said Federation Internationale de Football Association has not discussed imposing sanctions on either Bahrain or Thailand over the case.

Global criticism of the Thai military government's handling of Al-Araibi's predicament is intensifying, with Amnesty International on Monday calling for the extradition case to be thrown out.

"Certainly, we've been in touch with Hakeem's wife very regularly throughout and she's extremely depressed, as everyone would be aware", Foster said.

In Australia, which granted him political asylum in 2017, al-Araibi started playing as a defender for Pasco Vale, a Melbourne-based semi-professional club.

The Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN), a network of hundreds of civil society groups committed to advancing the rights of refugees in the Asia Pacific region, has also been highly active in supporting al-Araibi's case.

Federico Addiechi, head of sustainability and diversity at Fifa, said football's governing body had stopped short of backing sporting sanctions against Bahrain and Thailand, but supported al-Araibi. I want to go home to Australia I don't want to go to Bahrain.

Federico Addiechi, a representative of Federation Internationale de Football Association, soccer's world governing body, also attended Monday's hearing and said the organization will continue to support al-Araibi. "He is a human rights defender and therefore under worldwide law he should not be subject to these proceedings", Francis Awaritefe, vice president of FIFPro, the global union for professional football players, said at the court. "The case that is going to prove whether sport and human rights is substantive, and that the political and huge economic implications coming out of the Middle East region cannot play any role in what is a very basic case of a refugee law".