Hakeem al-Araibi Boards Flight Home To Melbourne After Extraordinary Development

Hakeem al Araibi Finally Welcomed Home By Supporters At Melbourne Airport

On Monday, Thai officials told the BBC they had released al-Araibi because Bahrain was no longer seeking his extradition. He was seen talking happily as he walked past the gate to board his plane.

Mr Araibi, 25, a former Bahraini national team player, has said he fled his home country due to political repression.

Bahraini refugee, Hakeem Al-Araibi leaves Thailand's Criminal Court, in Bangkok, Thailand 04 February, 2019.

After his arrest in Bahrain, al-Araibi said police tortured him.

Officials in Bahrain did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

But it added that the guilty verdict against him "remains in place" and "t$3 he Kingdom of Bahrain reaffirms its right to pursue all necessary legal actions against Mr. Al Araibi".

He has denied those charges and said the case was politically motivated. Human rights activists said he could face torture if sent back to Bahrain.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had also repeatedly pushed for his release, saying that he had written letters to his Thai counterpart Prayut Chan-O-Cha and stressed "how strongly" Australians feel about Araibi's case.

Foreign minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa gave Ambassador Ridwaan Jadwat, "relevant court documents" related to al-Araibi's extradition, including an worldwide arrest warrant, the Kingdom of Bahrain said in a statement published on Tuesday.

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He was detained in Bangkok in November on an Interpol notice requested by Bahrain.

He was convicted of vandalising a police station during 2011 anti-government protests in Bahrain and sentenced in absentia after he fled. His brother is serving his own 10-year sentence, the Times reports.

"We are heartened seeing our released son Hakeem Al-Araibi's picture; embracing freedom after more than two months", his mother and siblings said.

Al-Arabi's extradition case quickly grew worldwide attention, with non-governmental organizations Amnesty global and Human Rights Watch calling for his release.

The refugee footballer was facing the possibility of being sent back to Bahrain - where human rights activists said he would nearly definitely be tortured - after being arrested in Thailand while on his honeymoon. He had been playing for a semi-professional soccer team in Melbourne before he was detained in Thailand.

While it has been a long and arduous two months in detention for Hakeem, Thailand has done the right thing in dropping the case against him.

Al-Araibi has said he was blindfolded and had his legs beaten when he was held in Bahrain previously.

"This is significant win for humanity", tweeted Australian retired soccer player and sports analyst Craig Foster who had lobbied for al-Araibi in Bangkok.

In addition to thanking Thailand, Morrison said Australians "greatly appreciate their listening to the issues that have been raised by our government and many others who have raised this case".

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