Thailand will free a refugee Bahraini footballer, arrested more than two months ago, after Bahrain abandoned its bid to seek his extradition, a prosecutor in the case said.
Monday’s decision comes after the 25-year old footballer Hakeem al Araibi was detained for weeks in Bangkok’s Klong Prem Remand Prison.
Bahrain wanted him returned to serve a 10-year prison sentence he received in absentia in 2014 for an arson attack that damaged a police station. Al Araibi denies those charges.
“Please don’t send me to Bahrain,” al Araibi was heard shouting while walking barefoot towards Thailand’s criminal court on February 4 to fight back Bahrain’s request of extradition.
Al Araibi, who fled Bahrain in 2014 and received refugee status in Australia, was arrested in November at a Bangkok airport while on a honeymoon trip following an Interpol notice issued at Bahrain’s request.
However, Bahrain’s withdrawal of the request, lead a Thai court to approve a motion by prosecutors to drop the case against the footballer, said Chatchom Akapin, an official in the Thai Attorney-General’s office.
“The court will now issue an order to release Mr Hakeem from jail today,” said Chatchom, the director-general of the office’s international affairs department.
“There are no grounds to hold him anymore. It is his right to decide where he will go next. He is a free man.”
It was not immediately clear when Bahrain withdrew its extradition request. Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had no comment on the case.
Al Arabi, who played for the Bahrain national team, joined Pasco Vale, a Melbourne-based semi-professional club after Australia granted him refugee status in 2017.
Al Jazeera and news agencies