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Bahraini Refugee Footballer Could Be Jailed in Thailand until August

Bahraini Refugee Footballer Could Be Jailed in Thailand until August

Former Australia national team captain Craig Foster and the Australian and global players' unions have been leading a campaign for the release al-Araibi, who plays for a semi-professional club in Australia.

Football Federation Australia yesterday announced that it had scrapped the game against China, a scheduled warm-up ahead of next month's qualifiers for the Asian Under-23 Championships.

The former captain of Australia has said that Bahrain and Thailand should be barred from hosting global sport until Hakeem al-Araibi, the refugee footballer, is released from prison.

Thailand defended on Wednesday its arrest of a Bahraini footballer with refugee status in Australia, saying officials only detained him because Australian authorities sent an Interpol "red notice" after he boarded a plane to Bangkok.

Al-Araibi, a former player on Bahrain's national team, says he fled Bahrain due to political repression and that he fears torture if he returns.

Australia continued to advocate on al-Araibi's behalf at the highest levels in both Thailand and Bahrain, Payne said.

Thailand has come under great pressure from Australia's government, sporting bodies and human rights groups to send Hakeem al-Araibi back to Australia.

"The Bahraini government knew that he would be arriving in Thailand so they coordinated with Thailand's permanent secretary of foreign affairs to detain him, pending documents sent from Bahrain", Surachet told BBC Thai.

On Monday, the Criminal Court agreed to extend al-Arabi's detention for 60 days until April 22 to allow his lawyers more time to fight his extradition to Bahrain.

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The AFC has been criticised for its handling of the case as President Shaikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa has a conflict of interest owing to his stature within Bahrain's royal family.

Al-Araibi claims he was tortured following the Arab Spring protests and was later sentenced to 10 years in prison for vandalising a police station, even though he was playing in a televised match at the time.

The sight of a chained al-Araibi inspired Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to second a second letter to Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha following his first correspondence in January.

Former Australia national soccer team captain Craig Foster, who has been lobbying for al-Araibi's release, is in Bangkok and has been in touch with al-Araibi.

It said he had been granted bail to travel for a football tournament and had violated the terms while taking "special consideration granted to him as a sportsman". I reiterate once again that the Government of Australia would like Hakeem al-Araibi to be returned to Australia as soon as possible.

Thailand's Attorney-General is expected to hold a news briefing on the case.

"If you look at the number of foreign defendants, they pay their bail and jump bail and then don't show up in court", Chatchom Akapin, the office's director general for worldwide affairs, said, adding that the policy applied "not only to Hakeem".

He maintained that the footballer's case was now in the judicial process and a decision was at the discretion of the Thai courts. Bahrain said he had the right to appeal as others involved in the case have done.

AlAraibi was allegedly tortured by Bahraini authorities for his brother's political actions and sentenced to a decade in jail for the alleged vandalism.