Australian government calls for “immediate return” of Bahrain footballer
Australia has called for the immediate release of Hakeem Al-Araibi, who has a refugee status in Melbourne, who two weeks ago was detained in Bagkok.
The Australian government has called for the immediate release of a Melbourne-based refugee football player who two weeks ago was detained in Bagkok while on vacation with his wife. Hakeem Al-Araibi, who plays for a semi-professional club in Melbourne, is being held in detention with a Thai court to rule next week for his fate.
According to the footballer, he was arrested and beaten at the start of the Arab Spring protests in Bahrain in 2012. He was granted refugee status in Australia five years later. Al-Araibi was convicted in absentia on charges of vandalizing a police station on his home country. However, he claims that he was away of Bahrain playing in a match at the time of the alleged offence.
Two days ago the office of Thailand’s attorney-general submitted an extradition case to the criminal court on Bahrain’s behalf. Australian Foreign Minister, Marise Payne said: "Australia is concerned by the ongoing detention of Mr Hakeem Ali Al-Araibi and calls for his immediate return to Australia. Australia has made, and will continue to make, high-level diplomatic representations seeking Mr Al-Araibi's safe return."
Several human rights groups as well as FIFA have called for his immediate release.
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