Scott Morrison 'pushing on every door' for release of Hakeem Al-Araibi


Prime Minister Scott Morrison says Australia is 'determinedly' lobbying for Thailand to release the Melbourne-based refugee.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison insists Australia is "pushing on every door" to get Thailand to release refugee Hakeem Al-Araibi, despite receiving no direct response from his counterpart.

Mr Al-Araibi has been held in Thailand since arriving in Bangkok on holiday on November 27, due to a wrongly-issued Interpol red notice.

"We are pushing on every door here and we will continue to do that respectfully but very determinedly," Mr Morrison told 2GB on Thursday.

Hakeem al-Araibi and Thai prison guards
Hakeem Al-Araibi has lived in Melbourne since being granted refugee status.

Mr Morrison recently wrote to Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha calling for the Melbourne-based soccer player to be sent back to Australia but he's yet to hear back.

On Thursday, he brushed aside the lack of response.

"It's not my job to get offended, it's my job to get Hakeem home," he said.

It's my job to get Hakeem home

Scott Morrison

"We're still working closely with them. This is a very sensitive diplomatic issue."

Asked whether Mr Al-Araibi faced extradition to Bahrain as soon as this week, Mr Morrison said: "That is not what we believe".

SBS News understands the Thai Prime Minister may discuss the matter at a press conference on Friday.

Meanwhile, former Socceroos captain Craig Foster appeared on CNN on Wednesday saying Bahrain was trying to "contravene international law" by extraditing a refugee who has been granted protection by Australia.

"He is nothing more than a political prisoner. This is about retribution from the government and royal family in Bahrain, and all Australians are saying we will not stand for it," he said.

Earlier this week, Mr Foster met with football's world governing body FIFA to present more than 50,000 petition signatures demanding Mr Al-Araibi's release.

The footballer is desperately trying to avoid extradition to Bahrain where he was sentenced to jail in absentia for vandalising a police station during the Arab Spring in 2012.

Australian refugee soccer player Hakeem Al-Araibi in detention in Thailand
Australian refugee soccer player Hakeem Al-Araibi in detention in Thailand.

The 25-year-old was sentenced despite submitting evidence he was playing soccer at the time.

Interpol's bureau in Australia notified Thai authorities that Mr Al-Araibi was arriving in Thailand, sparking strong criticism of Australia's role in allowing Bahrain to issue a red notice for someone deemed a refugee.

'Dangerous and irresponsible'

Mr Al-Araibi's case is continuing to garner international attention.

Earlier this week, 30 Members of the European Parliament sent a letter to the Thai Government calling on for the immediate release of Mr Al-Araibi and his safe return to Australia.

"We would like also to remind you of the legally binding principle of “nonrefoulement,” where states are prohibited from returning an individual to a country where they are at risk of torture or other serious human rights violations," the letter said.

Hakeem Alaraibi on the field.
Hakeem Alaraibi on the field.

MEP Julie Ward said "extraditing him to Bahrain would be dangerous and irresponsible as he would most likely face torture and human rights violations".

"I trust the Thai authorities are aware of the risks involved and will work with us to uphold human rights."

Mr Al-Araibi's wife has written to Justin Trudeau and Jacinda Ardern in a desperate bid for help.

In letters reported by the Guardian, she urged the Canadian and New Zealand leaders to also act.

Mr Al-Araibi's wife, who did not want to be named, cited the recent case of Rahaf al-Qunun who was granted asylum in Canada after fleeing her home country of Saudi Arabia.

"Time is running out, and I am pleading desperately to you as a humanitarian, and someone who would not hesitate to stand with justice, please please help my husband," she said.

Additional reporting: AAP

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