Immigration

Australian refugee footballer's detention extended as authorities prepare extradition

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Australian permanent resident Hakeem AlAraibi could be stuck in immigration detention in Thailand until mid-2019 after a Thai court extended his stay.

Thai authorities have extended the detention of a Bahraini football player with Australian refugee status who faces deportation to his native country Bahrain, his lawyers say.

Hakeem AlAraibi, an Australian permanent resident, was detained at Bangkok airport in November after holidaying in Thailand with his wife.

He was held on a now-expired Interpol warrant issued at the request of Mr AlAraibi's native Bahrain.

Bahraini footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi, who has Australian refugee status, is facing extradition to Bahrain.
Bahraini footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi, who has Australian refugee status, is facing extradition to Bahrain.
AAP

Mr AlAraibi, who has been critical of Bahrain's government, was convicted of vandalising a police station in Bahrain and sentenced to 10 years in prison in absentia. He has denied wrongdoing.

According to Human Rights Watch, he was tortured by Bahraini authorities because of his brother's political activities during the Arab Spring uprising in 2011.

Mr AlAraibi fears he will be tortured if he is deported back to Bahrain.

While Foreign Minister Marise Payne issued a strong statement on Sunday, calling for his immediate release back to Melbourne, the Thai court granted authorities more time to prepare the case to extradite Mr AlAraibi to Bahrain. 

AlAraibi's detention could be a matter of days, weeks or months as he awaits for a Thai court to decide whether to extradite him, said lawyer Somchai Homlaor.

"The Thai prosecutors are awaiting documents from the Bahraini authorities on the case he was found guilty of," the lawyer added.

Looking distressed, AlAraibi was transferred from Bangkok Immigration Detention Centre to the Bangkok Criminal Court prison on Tuesday.

"Please stop this. I didn't do anything," the 25-year-old footballer pleaded with members of the media outside court, claiming he would soon be granted Australian citizenship.

"I don't wanna go to Bahrain. I wanna go to Australia. I wanna go home," he added.

Ahead of the court hearing, another of his lawyers Nadthasiri Bergman said she planned to ask for her client to be bailed, but that was denied. 

Mr Alaraibi playing for Melbourne team Pascoe Vale. There are concerns he could remain detention until 2019.
Mr Alaraibi playing for Melbourne team Pascoe Vale. There are concerns he could remain detention until 2019.
pvfc.com.au

Mr AlAraibi fled from Bahrain to Australia in 2014 and was granted refugee status in November 2017.

He has been critical of the Bahraini government, speaking about an incident where he was allegedly tortured by Bahraini authorities in 2012.

A former member of the Bahrain national soccer team, Mr AlAraibi played in the semi-professional National Premier Leagues Victoria for Pascoe Vale this year.

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Refugee could be extradited to Bahrain after trip to Thailand
Refugee could be extradited to Bahrain after trip to Thailand

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