The soccer player was forced to leave Bahrain after speaking out against the way the country treated its soccer players. | Credit: AP Photo,  G. Amarasinghe
The soccer player was forced to leave Bahrain after speaking out against the way the country treated its soccer players. | Credit: AP Photo, G. Amarasinghe

The soccer player from Bahrain was freed from prison in Thailand after the Bahrainian authorities demanded he be arrested by Interpol.

25-year-old Bahraini soccer player Hakeem Al-Araibi was released from a Thai jail on Monday after authorities dropped an extradition case against him. 

"There are no grounds to hold him anymore. It is his right to decide where he will go next. He is a free man," Chatchom Akapin, director-general of the International Affairs Department at the prosecutor's office told Reuters.

Al-Araibi was arrested in Thailand at Bangkok's main airport on November 27 as he arrived in the country for his honeymoon. Thai police acted on an Interpol notice issued at Bahrain's request. It is unclear when or why Bahrain withdrew its extradition request.

Bahrain's foreign ministry said it noted the end of legal proceedings and the verdict against the soccer player remained. Al-Araibi was accused of crimes during the Arab Spring protests of 2011. He fled the country in 2014 and received refugee status in Australia, where he plays for Pasco Vale FC. He denied any wrongdoing in Bahrain and charges are tied to his criticism of Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, a member of Bahrain's ruling family.

Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not comment on the case. 

Welcomed in Australia, soccer

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed the decision. "We greatly respect the process that they have had to work through and we greatly appreciate their listening to the issues that have been raised by our government and many others," said Morrison at a press conference.

Former Australia soccer captain Craig Foster, who helped lobby officials at soccer's governing body, FIFA, on the case, was also thrilled at the news, tweeting his thanks.



Al-Araibi is expected to return to Australia on Tuesday, according to another tweet from Foster.




 

More articles