Thai court orders release of refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi


Thailand's attorney-general's office has dropped the extradition case against jailed Bahraini footballer Hakeem al-Araibi, media outlets in Australia are reporting.

Director of the department's global affairs section, Chatchom Akapin, said Bahrain had requested the case be dropped.

Although Al-Araibi's release is yet to be officially confirmed, the player's lawyer Latifa al-Haouli told SBS News: "We won".

Thailand had come under great pressure from Australia's government, sporting bodies and human rights groups to send al-Araibi back to Australia and not to Bahrain, where he is supposed to serve a prison sentence he says was politically motivated.

Al-Araibi has been in a Bangkok jail since November, after being arrested while on honeymoon due to an Interpol notice issued at Bahrain's request.

Australia's prime minister has thanked Thailand for its decision to no longer seek the extradition to Bahrain of a refugee soccer player who lives in Melbourne.

"This morning the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed us that Bahrain was no longer interested in this request", OAG foreign office chief Chatchom Akapin said.

Separately, BNA said Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa had met Thailand's foreign minister, who was visiting the island, on Sunday.

"Many wonderful people stepped forward to help Hakeem, " he wrote Monday in comments on Twitter.

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

Alqunun fled her family to Bangkok while on holiday in Kuwait but was detained by authorities shortly after arrival.

The state-run Bahrain News Agency reported Sunday that Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa had a phone call with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, but offered no specifics on their discussions.

Mr Araibi has said he was blindfolded and had his legs beaten while he was held in Bahrain previously.

He appeared in court last week, led into the courthouse in shackles, and was remanded in custody for another 10 weeks until April 22.

"We would particularly like to thank former Socceroo Craig Foster for his tireless efforts in leading this campaign and we also acknowledge the work of Professional Footballers Australia, Football Victoria and Pascoe Vale FC".

She said she requested his release on bail but it was denied because the court deemed him a flight risk. "(P) eople everywhere standing up for good, pushing back against regimes who flout worldwide law, for human rights".