A Thai Court Has Ordered the Release of a Bahraini Refugee Soccer Player

Associated Press

(BANGKOK) — A Thai court ordered the release of a refugee soccer player on Monday after prosecutors said they were no longer seeking his extradition to Bahrain in a case that had drawn worldwide attention.

Court spokesman Suriyan Hongvilai said that Hakeem al-Araibi, who lives and plays professional soccer in Australia, was being processed for release.

Prosecutors on Monday submitted to court a request to withdraw the case to extradite al-Araibi to Bahrain, where he faces a 10-year prison sentence for an arson attack that damaged a police station. He has denied those charges and says the case is politically motivated.

Prosecutors made the decision after Thailand’s foreign ministry sent their department a letter Monday morning that indicated that Bahrain had withdrawn its request for al-Araibi, said Chatchom Akapin, the director general of the attorney general office’s international affairs department

Officials in Bahrain, an island kingdom off the coast of Saudi Arabia that’s home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

The state-run Bahrain News Agency reported Sunday that Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa had a phone call with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, but offered no specifics on their discussions.

Separately, BNA said Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa met Sunday with Thailand’s foreign minister who was visiting the island. Again, no specifics on their talks was offered.

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