Written by Reuters
12 Feb, 2019 | 2:37 pm
REUTERS – A refugee Bahraini footballer, who was held in a Thai prison for more than two months at the Gulf state’s request, arrived in the Australian city of Melbourne from Bangkok on Tuesday (February 12).
Hakeem Al Araibi, 25, who fled Bahrain in 2014 and received refugee status in Australia, was released from prison on Monday (February 11). He was arrested in Bangkok in November while on honeymoon following an Interpol notice issued at Bahrain’s request.
The arrest drew widespread international condemnation and, under heavy diplomatic pressure, Bahrain agreed to drop its bid to have him extradited from Thailand.
A Thai Airways plane carrying Araibi arrived in Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, shortly before 0200 GMT, where scores of supporters had waited for several hours to greet him.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison twice wrote to his Thai counterpart to urge the release of Araibi, while Foreign Minister Marise Payne traveled to Bangkok to press for his release. The intervention of several current and former football stars also fuelled pressure on both Thailand and Bahrain to release Araibi.
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