Feb. 11 (UPI) — Bahrain withdrew its extradition request Monday for refugee and Bahraini soccer player Hakeem al-Araibi who will now be freed from Thai custody.
Thailand’s Office of the Attorney General asked the court to end the extradition proceedings because Bahrain was no longer interested in following through, BBC reported.
“This morning the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed us that Bahrain was no longer interested in this request,” the attorney general office’s chief Chatchom Akanpin said.
The 25-year-old was apprehended in Bangkok while on honeymoon in November, the BBC reported.
He was detained on an Interpol notice at the request of Bahrain and was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison for vandalizing a police station, charges which he denies.
He fled the country in 2014 to Australia after having been arrested and beaten as part of a crackdown on athletes, the Guardian reported.
“We understand that (Prayut Chan-o-cha) Govt and court has ruled to release Hakeem. My thanks go to the wonderful people of Thailand for your support and to the Thai Govt for upholding international law,” said retired Australian soccer player and human rights activist Craig Foster in a tweet.
We understand that @prayutofficial Govt and court has ruled to release Hakeem. My thanks go to the wonderful people of Thailand for your support and to Thai Govt for upholding international law. My deepest gratitude. Also to everyone who stood for what’s right 👏 #Hakeemhome
— Craig Foster (@Craig_Foster) February 11, 2019
The move by Bahrain follows some 70 days of international pressure to end its extradition request.
Al-Araibi plays for Pascoe Vale FC in Melbourne, Australia, the country that granted him refugee status.