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Refugee Bahraini footballer, free of Thai jail, says ‘I really like Australia’

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


Refugee Bahraini footballer, free of Thai jail, says ‘I really like Australia’

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

Hakeem Al Araibi, 25, who fled Bahrain in 2014 and obtained refugee standing in Australia, was launched from jail in Bangkok on Monday. Authorities in Bahrain accused Araibi of crimes dedicated through the Arab Spring protests of 2011, costs which he denied.

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

A whole bunch of supporters clamored to embrace him, TV footage confirmed, and cheered “Welcome residence, Hakeem!”. He wore the colours of Pascoe Vale, the semi-professional workforce he performs for in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest metropolis.

“Lastly, this nightmare has ended,” Araibi’s spouse, who has requested for her title to not be revealed to guard her security, mentioned in a press release. “My coronary heart is now full with gratitude. Simply so grateful that these tears are falling out of aid and pleasure.”

Newlywed Araibi went to Thailand for his honeymoon however was arrested upon arrival in Bangkok in November, following an Interpol “pink discover” issued at Bahrain’s request and delivered to Thailand’s consideration by Australian police.

He had been convicted of vandalizing a police station in Bahrain and was sentenced to 10 years in jail in absentia.

Araibi has denied any wrongdoing, saying that he was taking part in in a televised match on the time the offense was dedicated, and was granted asylum in Australia in 2017. Bahrain, nonetheless, sought his extradition from Thailand.

Former Socceroo Craig Foster (centre proper) is seen with refugee footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi (centre) as he arrives at Melbourne Worldwide Airport in Melbourne, Australia, February 12, 2019. AAP Picture/David Crosling through REUTERS

He was freed after almost three months of high-drama diplomacy, authorized maneuvering by the governments of Australia, Thailand and Bahrain, and a loud public marketing campaign by footballers and human rights activists.


Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison twice wrote to his Thai counterpart to induce Araibi’s launch, whereas Overseas Minister Marise Payne traveled to Bangkok to press for his freedom.

Bahrain halted its extradition bid on Monday, whereas reserving the best to pursue additional motion in opposition to Araibi.

Craig Foster, a former Australian soccer captain, additionally led efforts and drew help from Australia’s main aim scorer, Tim Cahill, and former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba.

“To struggle extremely arduous for not only a younger participant who nearly nobody knew, however a refugee who was below our safety … speaks volumes concerning the character, the values and the pleasure that we’ve as Australians,” Foster advised reporters in Melbourne after embracing Araibi.

Australia has introduced a evaluate of its procedures for dealing with Interpol pink notices. It mentioned Araibi’s case, which it flagged to Thai authorities, ought to by no means have been issued due to his refugee standing.

Interpol notices are requested by member international locations and are then issued by Interpol after a compliance examine, in keeping with Interpol’s web site. It’s then as much as member international locations to find out its weight or authorized worth.

Slideshow (6 Photographs)

Australian police haven’t commented on the case or their vetting of the discover, past confirming that they knowledgeable Thailand of Araibi’s impending arrival.

Worldwide regulation educational Lorraine Finlay, a lecturer at Perth’s Murdoch College, mentioned it was not clear what course of the Australian Federal Police had adopted, apart from that it gave the impression to be extremely automated.

“Now that Hakeem Al Araibi is again in Australia … we have to make it possible for no individual we give protection to is ever put on this scenario once more,” she mentioned.

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

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