Hakeem Al-Araibi is to return to Australia after the case against him was dropped. Mr al-Araibi was detained in Bangkok more than two months ago for alleged vandalism offences in his native Bahrain.
The ABC reports that the director-general of international affairs for the Thai Government has confirmed to that the Attorney-General requested the extradition case to Bahrain be dropped.
Al-Araibi spoke out against the persecution and torture of other footballers who had demonstrated against the ruling regime during the Bahraini uprising of 2011.
He was officially recognised as a refugee by Australia and has been a semi-professional player in the country for the past four years, he faced the prospect of having been forced back to his native country to serve time in prison.
On his 19th birthday on 7 November 2012, walking on his way to a cafe in Bahrain to watch a Real Madrid-Barcelona game, he was picked up by Bahraini security forces. They accused him of vandalising a police station four days earlier, based on the supposed confession of his brother Emad, who allegedly told them that Hakeem had been part of a crowd of protestors who set upon the building with Molotov cocktails.
The next day Al-Araibi told the public prosecutor he had been playing in a televised football match when the attack took place and denied the allegations. But his detention was extended for 45 days, during which he says security forces tried to torture a confession out of him. He told German broadcaster ARD
“They spent three hours hitting me hard on my legs, while saying we will break your bones, we will destroy your future, you will never play football again with these legs.” He was then released on bail.