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Refugee footballer will not be extradited to Bahrain: Thai prosecutor

AFP  |  Bangkok 

Refugee will not be sent back to after dropped proceedings against him at the Gulf State's request, a said Monday.

Araibi, a former Bahraini national youth team player, was granted refugee status in after fleeing charges in the connected to Arab Spring protests.

But he was stopped at a airport at Bahrain's request in November as he arrived in for his honeymoon Since then, he has been detained in a prison pending a court ruling over the request from the -- a move the has pleaded against as he fears torture if returned.

Monday brought a stunning about-turn from the Bahraini government, which withdrew the request, said Chatchom Akapin, of the at the prosecutor's office.

"We have been informed that wants to withdraw the (extradition) request... if they don't want him, we have no reason to keep him here," he told AFP. Chatchom added that the process to release Araibi is underway.

The has repeatedly called for Araibi's return and the case has become a cause celebre in the football world, with also urging the Thai to intervene.

Football Federation (FFA) last week cancelled the under-23 men's national team plans to hold a training camp in ahead of the AFC U23 Championship qualifiers next month.

Australian had also repeatedly pushed for his release, saying that he had written letters to his Thai counterpart Prayut Chan-O-Cha and stressed "how strongly" Australians feel about Araibi's case.

Former Australian who has been leading a protest in the football community for Araibi's freedom expressed his "deepest gratitude" for the

"My thanks go to the wonderful people of Thailand for your support and to the Thai (government) for upholding international law," Foster posted on shortly after the

Thailand's treatment of refugees has been thrust under international scrutiny in recent weeks.

In January, an 18-year-old Saudi woman who ran away from her family arrived in Bangkok's airport, and armed with a smart-phone and a captive audience, she managed to outmaneuvre Thai authorities and gain refuge in following her pleas for asylum from her "abusive" family.

Bahrain's reversal of Araibi's extradition is surprising. Only last week it issued a statement defending its decision to pursue the after he fled while awaiting trial.

He was convicted in absentia in 2014 for damaging a police station. But Araibi says the case is bogus and tied to his criticism of (AFC) Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, a member of Bahrain's ruling family.

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

First Published: Mon, February 11 2019. 15:40 IST