Australia government urges Thailand to free refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi

Hakeem al-Araibi

Hakeem al-Araibi

However, the week-long camp will be rearranged and held elsewhere in Asia after FFA decided Thailand was no longer an appropriate destination in light of ongoing detention of al-Araibi, a former Bahrani worldwide who was granted refugee status in Australia and plays for Pascoe Value in NPL Victoria.

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. "Bahrain won't defend me".

The FFA wants Al-Araibi returned to Australia "as a matter of urgency". "Hakeem, Australia is with you, mate", Foster shouted.

In the Bahraini government's first substantial public statements since Al-Araibi's arrest in November, it denied the allegations made by Al-Araibi and human rights organisations regarding the danger the footballer would face if sent back to Bahrain.

However, Araibi has said he believes he is being targeted over his criticism of Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa, a member of Bahrain's ruling family.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne reiterated her government's call for the Thai government to release al-Araibi so he can return home to Australia. He has been living in Melbourne, where he plays for a semi-professional football team.

The Bahraini government claims Al-Araibi was convicted and sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison for "terrorism-related offences, including an attack on a police station".

Foster, who leads the protests for Araibi's freedom, said the case was politically motivated and represented "retribution from Bahrain to Hakeem".

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

The Bahraini government insists that he should be treated as a simple fugitive and will have an opportunity to appeal his conviction in the country's courts.

The court extended his detention by 60 days, during which he can file an objection against the extradition request.

"FIFA is committed to protecting human rights".

The Australian government, world football governing body Fifa and the worldwide players' union FIFPro have all advocated the release of the player.

The court gave the defence team until April 5 to submit documents opposing the extradition, and set April 22 for a preliminary hearing of witnesses and evidence.

She said she requested his release on bail but it was denied because the court deemed him a flight risk.

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