Southeast Asia Thailand

Bahraini Footballer Hakeem Al Araibi Freed by Thai Courts

Gian Chansrichawla

Football Tribe SEA Editor

 

After three months in captivity, former Bahrain international Hakeem Al Araibi was freed after an order from the Office of the Attorney General withdrew their request for his extradition.

Formerly a citizen of Bahrain, Al Araibi fled the country after being imprisoned and tortured by the authorities in the Gulf State. He was a vocal critic of the nation’s government and was eventually arrested for vandalizing a police station – a crime he could not have committed as he was playing a televised football game at the time.

After being sentenced in absentia to imprisonment in Bahrain, Al Araibi finally escaped in 2014, settling in Australia after being given official refugee status.

From there, Al Araibi worked to rebuild his footballing career, featuring for various second and third division clubs in the country, and is currently on the books of Pascoe Vale FC.

In November 2018, Al Araibi was arrested upon his arrival in Bangkok, at the behest of an Interpol red notice issued by Bahrain. This action by the Thai government sparked protest and outrage, with a number of notable organizations, including Amnesty International, calling upon Thai prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to release the footballer.

After spending three months detained in the country, Thailand finally showed positive signs when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement stressing the nation’s neutrality on the issue, claiming that they were simply following protocol and had no vested interest in sending the footballer back to his homeland.

Hakeem was finally released on February 11th when the Thai Attorney General withdrew the case for his extradition back to Bahrain, thus allowing the footballer to freely return to Australia.