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Freed Bahraini footballer lands in Australia

12 February 2019

A refugee Bahraini footballer, who was held in a Thai prison for more than two months at the Gulf state's request, arrived in the Australian city of Melbourne from Bangkok on Tuesday. Hakeem Al Araibi, 25, who fled Bahrain in 2014 and received refugee status in Australia, was released from prison on Monday. He was arrested in Bangkok in November while on honeymoon following an Interpol notice issued at Bahrain's request. The arrest drew widespread international condemnation and, under heavy diplomatic pressure, Bahrain agreed to drop its bid to have him extradited from Thailand.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison wrote twice to his Thai counterpart to urge the release of Araibi, while Foreign Minister Marise Payne travelled to Bangkok to press for his release. The intervention of several current and former football stars also fuelled pressure on both Thailand and Bahrain to release Araibi.