Thailand releases refugee Bahraini footballer after extradition bid dropped

Thailand on Monday freed a jailed refugee Bahraini footballer with residency status in Australia, after Bahrain abandoned its bid to seek his extradition, and immigration officials said he was immediately driven to the airport.

Hakeem Al Araibi, 25, who fled Bahrain in 2014 and received refugee status in Australia, was arrested in November last year at a Bangkok airport while on a honeymoon trip, following an Interpol notice issued at Bahrain’s request.

However, the Middle East nation has withdrawn the request, prompting a Thai court to approve a motion by prosecutors to drop the case against the footballer, Thai officials said.

“There are no grounds to hold him anymore. It is his right to decide where he will go next. He is a free man,” said Chatchom Akapin, an official in the Thai Attorney-General’s office.

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