FIFA issues renewed appeal to Thailand authorities for release of Bahraini footballer Hakeem Alaraibi from detention

Agence France-Presse
Rights groups have also claimed that athletes including footballers like al-Araibi were tortured and abused during a crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Bahrain

Zurich: FIFA on Wednesday repeated an appeal to Thai authorities for the release to Australia of a former Bahrain national footballer held on an extradition request.

Hakeem Alaraibi, who has refugee status in Australia, was stopped by Thai immigration on 27 November at Bahrain's request after arriving in Bangkok for a vacation with his wife.

A Thai court is due to rule next week on the request to extradite the 25-year-old who plays football for Pascoe Vale FC in Melbourne.

FIFA, world football's governing body, who appealed for his release last week, said on Wednesday the arrest should never have happened.

"FIFA is therefore calling on all the relevant authorities (in Bahrain, Thailand and Australia) to take the necessary steps to ensure that Mr Hakeem Al-Araibi (sic) is allowed to return safely to Australia where he can resume his career as a professional footballer."

The Australian government and human rights groups have also called for the release of Alaraibi, who was granted refugee status in Australia after he was arrested and beaten at the start of the Arab Spring protests in the Gulf state in 2012.

Alaraibi was convicted in absentia on charges of vandalising a police station in Bahrain, but says he was out of the country playing in a match at the time of the alleged offence.

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