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How one soccer player's honeymoon turned into an extradition nightmare

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Via Reuters

BANGKOK — The honeymoon that Bahraini football participant Hakeem Al Araibi and his spouse had was hoping to have in Thailand overdue final yr didn’t move consistent with plan.

Because the 25-year-old, who has refugee standing in Australia, were given off a airplane in Bangkok on Nov. 27, Thai immigration police have been ready to arrest him in response to an Interpol “pink realize” from Bahrain.

What adopted was once greater than two months of diplomatic wrangling and intense scrutiny from world rights and sports activities organizations as they lobbied for Araibi’s unencumber from a jail in Bangkok, the place he awaited imaginable extradition to the Gulf nation.

Araibi fled Bahrain in 2014 after being accused of vandalism all through the 2011 Arab Spring protests and sentenced in absentia to 10 years in jail. He denies the costs and has lived as a refugee in Australia ever since.

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Protestors run for defense after police fired tear gasoline canisters to disperse them within the village of Diraz, northwest of Bahrain, on Feb. 14, 2011.AFP/Getty Photographs report

The Center East country calls him a fugitive; Araibi stated he can be tortured if he have been despatched again there.

“It was once a large marvel after I arrived at Bangkok airport,” Araibi informed Reuters.

Refugee standing

Araibi had contacted Australia’s House Affairs division, the company accountable for his refugee standing, prior to his honeymoon and was once confident that it was once secure to trip, stated Fatima Yazbek, a rights activist who has been in shut contact with the couple.

Australian House Affairs officers didn’t instantly remark.

However because the couple’s flight took off from Melbourne, the place Araibi performs for the Pascoe Vale football membership, an Interpol notification went out alerting each Bahrain and Thailand of his actions.

Thai government say they acted at the alert from Interpol Australia and an extradition request hours later by means of Bahrain, which had put out the pink realize weeks prior to on Nov. eight — the similar day the couple was once granted Thai visas from the embassy in Australia.

“The government knew his seat quantity and had a replica of the [Bahraini] passport that he had had when he was once 16 years outdated,” Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch, who was once in touch with the couple, informed Reuters.

It was once no longer instantly transparent why Araibi’s refugee standing, which must have avoided an Interpol pink realize, was once no longer flagged when the trip notification went out. Activist Yazbek says it was once a loss of coordination amongst Australian businesses.

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Hakeem Al-Araibi arrives at Melbourne World Airport in Melbourne, Australia, on Tuesday.AAP Symbol/David Crossing / Reuters

Australia’s embassy in Bangkok stated it was once “no longer to begin with conscious” pink realize have been issued regardless of Araibi’s standing as a safe refugee.

“When the Australian Executive become conscious about the location, we ensured the pink realize was once rescinded once imaginable,” the embassy stated in a remark.

That took 3 days, all through which Araibi remained detained. Via Nov. 30, the Interpol pink realize have been lifted and the football participant was once informed he may quickly depart Bangkok.

However the lengthen proved expensive. By the point the pink realize was once lifted, Bahraini government had contacted Thailand, inquiring for his detention and eventual extradition.


Araibi was once detained all over the weeks-long procedure, which noticed him seem in court docket on Feb. four along with his naked toes in shackles as he begged government to not ship him to Bahrain.

The case drew world complaint and a public marketing campaign to loose Araibi won momentum, spearheaded in Australia by means of football avid gamers and rights activists. Australian Top Minister Scott Morrison and officers from international football governing frame FIFA joined requires his unencumber.

“The pictures of footballer Hakeem in leg irons on the court docket induced an enormous, spontaneous upsurge of world revulsion in social media, making it somewhat transparent to Thai policymakers that the worldwide marketing campaign would develop and accentuate in the event that they persisted with the extradition procedure to Bahrain,” Robertson stated.

On Monday, the Thai legal professional common’s workplace all at once stated it was once shedding the extradition case after Bahrain deserted its request.

It was once no longer transparent when or why the Gulf kingdom modified its thoughts. The transfer got here at the heels of a gathering between Thai Overseas Minister Don Pramudwinai and Bahrain Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al Khalifa on Sunday in Manama, although the time table of that assembly was once no longer disclosed.

Bahrain’s international ministry stated the 10-year prison sentence imposed on Araibi remained in position and reaffirmed its proper to “pursue all essential criminal movements towards him.”

Inside hours of Thailand’s choice, Araibi boarded a airplane again to Melbourne, the place he was once welcomed by means of loads of supporters on Tuesday.

Araibi stated the go back and forth to Thailand was once the primary time he and his spouse, who may be Bahraini, had traveled out of Australia in combination. She does no longer face any criminal problems in her house nation and is a college pupil in Australia, he stated.

Araibi informed Reuters he didn’t plan to trip for some time after their ordeal.

“Now I’m looking ahead to my Australian citizenship and It’s not that i am going to trip once more till I am getting it,” he stated. “I additionally want the Australian govt to make certain that It’s not that i am going to get arrested once more if I trip out of the country.”

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