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Refugee Bahraini footballer, freed from Thai jail, says 'I love Australia'

SYDNEY (Reuters) – A refugee Bahraini footballer who used to be held in a Thai jail for greater than two months on the Gulf state’s request arrived in his adoptive house Australia on Tuesday, tv footage confirmed, to cheers and the good reduction of his spouse.

Hakeem Al Araibi, 25, who fled Bahrain in 2014 and gained refugee standing in Australia, used to be launched from jail in Bangkok on Monday. Government in Bahrain accused Araibi of crimes dedicated all through the Arab Spring protests of 2011, fees which he denied.

“Australia is my nation. I don’t have citizenship but, however my nation is Australia … I like Australia, I can die in Australia,” Araibi mentioned after he disembarked in Melbourne airport from a Thai Airlines flight.

Masses of supporters clamored to embody him, TV photos confirmed, and cheered “Welcome house, Hakeem!”. He wore the colours of Pascoe Vale, the semi-professional crew he performs for in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest town.

“In the end, this nightmare has ended,” Araibi’s spouse, who has requested for her identify to not be revealed to offer protection to her protection, mentioned in a commentary. “My middle is now complete with gratitude. In order that grateful that those tears are falling out of reduction and pleasure.”

Newlywed Araibi went to Thailand for his honeymoon however used to be arrested upon arrival in Bangkok in November, following an Interpol “purple realize” issued at Bahrain’s request and dropped at Thailand’s consideration by way of Australian police.

He were convicted of vandalizing a police station in Bahrain and used to be sentenced to 10 years in jail in absentia.

Araibi has denied any wrongdoing, pronouncing that he used to be enjoying in a televised fit on the time the offense used to be dedicated, and used to be granted asylum in Australia in 2017. Bahrain, on the other hand, sought his extradition from Thailand.

Former Socceroo Craig Foster (centre proper) is observed with refugee footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi (centre) as he arrives at Melbourne World Airport in Melbourne, Australia, February 12, 2019. AAP Symbol/David Crosling by way of REUTERS

He used to be freed after just about 3 months of high-drama international relations, felony maneuvering by way of the governments of Australia, Thailand and Bahrain, and a noisy public marketing campaign by way of footballers and human rights activists.


Australian High Minister Scott Morrison two times wrote to his Thai counterpart to induce Araibi’s liberate, whilst International Minister Marise Payne traveled to Bangkok to press for his freedom.

Bahrain halted its extradition bid on Monday, whilst booking the fitting to pursue additional motion towards Araibi.

Craig Foster, a former Australian football captain, additionally led efforts and drew toughen from Australia’s main purpose scorer, Tim Cahill, and previous Chelsea striker Didier Drogba.

“To combat extremely arduous for no longer only a younger participant who nearly no person knew, however a refugee who used to be underneath our coverage … speaks volumes in regards to the persona, the values and the delight that we have got as Australians,” Foster advised newshounds in Melbourne after embracing Araibi.

Australia has introduced a overview of its procedures for dealing with Interpol purple notices. It mentioned Araibi’s case, which it flagged to Thai government, must by no means had been issued on account of his refugee standing.

Interpol notices are asked by way of member international locations and are then issued by way of Interpol after a compliance take a look at, in keeping with Interpol’s web site. It’s then as much as member international locations to resolve its weight or felony worth.

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Australian police have no longer commented at the case or their vetting of the attention, past confirming that they knowledgeable Thailand of Araibi’s coming near near arrival.

World regulation instructional Lorraine Finlay, a lecturer at Perth’s Murdoch College, mentioned it used to be no longer transparent what procedure the Australian Federal Police had adopted, as opposed to that it gave the impression to be extremely automatic.

“Now that Hakeem Al Araibi is again in Australia … we wish to make certain that no one we protect is ever put on this state of affairs once more,” she mentioned.

Reporting by way of Colin Packham and Tom Westbrook in Sydney. Further reporting by way of Patpicha Tanakasempipat and Panu Wongcha-um in Bangkok.; Modifying by way of Michael Perry and Paul Tait

Our Requirements:The Thomson Reuters Accept as true with Ideas.

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