Thailand releases refugee Bahraini footballer Hakeem Al Araibi

Bangkok: Thailand on Monday withdrew an extradition case against jailed refugee Bahraini footballer with residency status in Australia and freed immediately after Bahrain abandoned its bid to seek his extradition, a senior official said.

25-year-old Hakeem Al Araibi, who fled Bahrain in 2014 and received refugee status in Australia, was arrested at Bangkok airport on November 27 last year while he was on a honeymoon trip with his wife, following an Interpol notice issued at Bahrain’s request.

Hakeem , a pro-democracy advocate,  has been sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in absentia by the Bahrain regime for alleged vandalism but denies any involvement.

However, the Middle East nation has withdrawn the request, prompting a Thai court to approve a motion by prosecutors to drop the case against the footballer, Thai officials said.

“There are no grounds to hold him anymore. It is his right to decide where he will go next. He is a free man,” said Chatchom Akapin, an official in the Thai Attorney-General’s office.

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