Amnesty International calls for Thailand to release Australian refugee footballer wanted in Bahrain

Amnesty International Australia has called for the release of a Melbourne-based refugee and football player from a detention centre in Thailand, after he was detained at the request of Bahrain.

Key points:

  • Hakeem Ali AlAraibi was detained after being accused of vandalising a police station
  • The Melbourne-based refugee and footballer denies the charges
  • Documents obtained by rights groups reveal Mr AlAraibi may be held for 12 more days

Hakeem Ali AlAraibi — a Bahraini national — was detained at Bangkok Airport a week ago and remains in custody despite being cleared to return home after the Red Notice used to detain him was lifted.

While Thai officials said on Monday he may be released on Tuesday, documents obtained by rights groups showed Mr AlAraibi would be remanded for 12 more days.

Bahraini officials have formally requested that Thailand extradite Mr AlAraibi.

Demonstrators protested against Mr AlAraibi’s detention outside Victoria’s Thai Consulate.

Calling for Mr AlAraibi’s release, Amnesty International campaigner Diana Sayed said: “Hakeem will not be safe until he is back on Australian soil.

“Hakeem’s life will be in danger if he is deported to Bahrain.

“As a recognised refugee with approved travel documents he should never have been detained.

“We are pleased to hear reports of the Red Notice being lifted, but despite this the Thai authorities continue to detain him.

“Thai immigration must release him now and allow him to come home to Australia.”

Australia’s acting ambassador to Thailand, Paul Stephen, has met with the country’s top immigration official, Surachate Hakparn, to discuss the ongoing detention of Mr AlAraibi.

The Melbourne-based refugee was detained after Bahrain issued an international alert via Interpol, accusing him of vandalising a police station.

Mr AlAraibi denied the charge and said he was advised by Australian officials that his refugee status would make it safe for him to travel.

Mr AlAraibi said he was tortured in Bahrain, which prompted him to flee to Australia in 2014.

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