Bahrain drops extradition request for "terrified" refugee soccer player Hakeem al-Araibi

The ACTU is urging Western Sydney Wanderers to do more for Hakeem Al-Araibi

Bahraini footballer Hakeem al-Araibi is set to be released from custody after Thai authorities withdrew extradition proceedings against him.

A Thai court ordered the release of a refugee soccer player on Monday after prosecutors said they were no longer seeking his extradition to Bahrain in a case that had drawn worldwide attention.

Hakeem Al Araibi, 25, who fled Bahrain in 2014 and received refugee status in Australia, was arrested in November previous year at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport while on a honeymoon trip, following an Interpol notice issued at the Gulf state's request.

Supporters attend a rally in Melbourne this month seeking Hakeem Al-Araibi's release.

Thailand had come under great pressure from Australia's government, sporting bodies and human rights groups to send al-Araibi back to Australia and not to Bahrain, where he is supposed to serve a prison sentence he says was politically motivated. He has been living in Melbourne, where he plays for a semi-professional soccer team.

Former Socceroos captain and prominent broadcaster Craig Foster led the campaign to have him freed who said many wonderful people had stepped forward to help Hakeem.

However Bahrain has reiterated their arrest warrant for Hakeem is still current and will seize him if he returns to the country of his birth.

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"We have been informed that Bahrain wants to withdraw the (extradition) request. if they don't want him, we have no reason to keep him here", Chatchom Akapin, director general of the International Affairs Department told AFP, adding the process is underway to release him. Araibi denies the charges, saying he was playing in a televised soccer match at the time of the police station attack.

Officials in Bahrain, an island kingdom off the coast of Saudi Arabia that's home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, said the country "reaffirms its right to pursue all necessary legal actions against" al-Araibi. Human Rights Watch's director of global initiatives, Minky Worden, wrote on Saturday that the Bahraini request to extradite Araibi represented "naked political persecution".

The state-run Bahrain News Agency reported Sunday that Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa had a phone call with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, but offered no specifics on their discussions.

Alqunun fled her family to Bangkok while on holiday in Kuwait but was detained by authorities shortly after arrival.

Al-Araibi was jailed and beaten in Bahrain during a crackdown on pro-democracy athletes.

Bahrain continues to face fierce criticism from human rights organizations.

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