Thailand to free Bahraini footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi

4 2019 Hakeem al-Araibi a Bahraini refugee and Australian resident is escorted to a courtroom in Bangkok

4 2019 Hakeem al-Araibi a Bahraini refugee and Australian resident is escorted to a courtroom in Bangkok

Hakeem Al-Araibi, the refugee footballer detained in Thailand, will be freed from prison after Bahrain Monday made the shock decision to drop its extradition case.

Public prosecutor Settha Thianpilakul from the foreign affairs bureau of the Office of the Attorney-General arrived at the court on Ratchadaphisek Road on Monday afternoon to withdraw prosecutors' earlier request for the extradition of the 25-year-old Bahraini footballer.

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

Mr Al-Araibi, who fled Bahrain in 2014 before being granted permanent residence in Australia, was arrested while on honeymoon in Bangkok in November on an Interpol notice issued at Bahrain's request.

Bahrain wanted its former national team player to return and serve a 10-year prison sentence that was handed down in absentia after he was accused of vandalising a police station. Bahrain has a Shiite majority but is ruled by a Sunni monarchy.

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"Thanks go to the wonderful people of Thailand for your support and to Thai Government for upholding global law", Foster said.

The Australian government has repeatedly called for Araibi's return and the case has become a cause celebre in the football world, with FIFA also urging the Thai premier to intervene.

Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had no comment on the case. He says he faces torture if returned to Bahrain.

She said she requested his release on bail but it was denied because the court deemed him a flight risk.

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