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FOOTBALL

Hakeem al-Araibi freed by Thai authorities

Hakeem al-Araibi freed by Thai authorities

LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA

AFP

Hakeem al-Araibi has been released from prison in Thailand after proceedings seeking his extradition to Bahrain were dropped.

Bahraini footballer Hakeem al-Araibi has been released from custody after Thai authorities withdrew extradition proceedings against him.

Was detained in Thailand after arriving for honeymoon

The 25-year-old travelled to Thailand on his honeymoon and was arrested upon arrival on 27 November, detained on an Interpol notice issued at Bahrain's request.

Al-Araibi fled his homeland in 2014 before being granted permanent residence in Australia, where he has since lived and is on the books of semi-professional club Pascoe Vale.

The pro-democracy advocate has been sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment in absentia by the Bahrain regime for alleged vandalism but denies any involvement.

"We won. They have to send him home as quickly as possible," the player's lawyer, Latifa al-Haouli, told SBS News.

Former Australia captain Craig Foster has campaigned stridently for Al-Araibi's release and said his family had shed tears of joy at the news.

"Nightmare will shortly be at an end" - Foster

Foster tweeted: "My thanks go to the wonderful people of Thailand for your support and to the Thai Govt for upholding international law. My deepest gratitude. Also to everyone who stood for what's right.

"Most important thing now is Hakeem's immediate wellbeing. Sure Embassy staff will take care of him, there'll be tears there tonight, as there are in our household right now. Going to take some moments to thank as many of the incredible people involved as possible.

"Many wonderful people stepped forward to help Hakeem. They all deserve to be in front of camera now, not only me. I can't list them, but will thank each of them in time. My thoughts are with Hakeem's wife. Her nightmare will shortly be at an end. Our prayers answered."