Bahraini footballer Hakeem al-Araibi set to be released by Thai authorities

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Thailand to free Bahraini footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi

A Thai court has ordered the release of refugee footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi after prosecutors said they were no longer seeking his extradition to Bahrain.

Monday brought a stunning about-turn from the Bahraini government, which withdrew the extradition request, said Chatchom Akapin, Director-General of the International Affairs Department at the prosecutor's office.

Al-Araibi was jailed and beaten in Bahrain during a crackdown on pro-democracy athletes.

Former Australia national team captain Craig Foster, who has been leading the campaign for Mr Araibi's release, praised all those who worked on the campaign.

As a recognised refugee travelling on an Australian travel document, Araibi should never have been subject to an Interpol red notice.

Al-Araibi was arrested and detained last November, while on his honeymoon in Thailand at the request of the Bahraini government. He has been living in Melbourne, where he plays for a semi-professional soccer team.

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Former Socceroo Craig Foster tweeted, "thanks go to the wonderful people of Thailand for your support and to Thai Government for upholding worldwide law".

The pity is, the past two months of detention and fears he would be tortured on return to Bahrain could have all been avoided.

A Thai court had earlier ruled that Mr Al-Araibi would remain in prison until his next court hearing on April 22.

He was sentenced in absentia to 10 years for vandalising a police station. Thai officials had said a trial could be lengthy, depending on how many witnesses are called by each side.

Nadthasiri Bergman, Mr Araibi's lawyer, said the court had given her 60 days to submit the defence's case.

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