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Refugee Bahraini footballer returns to Australia

IANS  |  Melbourne 

Refugee Bahraini landed in on Tuesday after spending more than two months in detention in as his home country sought his

He landed at around 1 p.m. and was greeted by a large crowd of cheering supporters outside the airport "Welcome Home Hakeem", reports news.

"I would just thank Australia, it's amazing to see all the people here, all of Australian people, the media who have supported me," said Araibi.

"I will be more strong for this country, I will be strong here just for is my country. I don't have citizenship yet, but my country is Australia," added the player, accompanied by the former of the Australian national team, Craig Foster, who led a campaign to free him.

A ordered the release of Araibi on Monday after the prosecution withdrew the petition issued by against the 25-year-old who plays for the semi-professional team Pascoe

The player, who arrived in in 2014 after fleeing his country, was arrested on November 27, 2018, on his arrival in for his honeymoon.

The arrest was due to a red notice issued by Interpol, which was later withdrawn, and an request submitted by Bahrain, which had sentenced him in absentia to 10 years in prison on charges of vandalizing a police station during Arab Spring protests.

The case has tested relations between and Australia, whose government repeatedly asked for the release of Araibi, recognized there as a refugee in 2017, a demand that was echoed by FIFA, sporting organisations and prominent athletes around the world and spurred the

Araibi, who said that he was tortured in 2012 before fleeing Bahrain, defended his innocence by claiming that when the events for which he was convicted occurred, he was playing a televised match with the Bahraini national team.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, February 12 2019. 11:32 IST