A refugee footballer who now calls Australian home is still being detained in Thailand a week after he was arrested on an Interpol red notice.
Hakeem AlAraibi was detained on arrival at Bangkok Airport on November 27 at the request of Bahrain, the country from which he fled.
AlAraibi was granted asylum status by Australia in May 2014 after being sentenced in absentia by the Bahraini courts to 10 years jail for vandalising a police station.
The 25-year-old was expected to be returned to Australia on Saturday night but he was stopped from leaving Thailand hours before he was due to board his flight.
Refugee footballer Hakeem AlAraibi (pictured) was detained in Thailand on November 27 on an Interpol red notice
AlAraibi, a former member for the Bahrain national team, was granted asylum status by Australia in May 2014 after being sentenced in absentia by the Bahraini courts
AlAraibi had been told on Friday by Thai officials to prepare to leave the country and booked a flight to Melbourne departing at 9.25pm on the following day, according to NGOs and human rights activists who have spoken to him.
However, on Saturday evening he was taken from the police cells at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport to the Immigration Detention Centre in the city.
AlAraibi, a former member for the Bahrain national team, says he was arrested in November 2012 and tortured by the Bahraini authorities, allegedly due to the political activities of his brother.
The commander of Thai Immigration Police Lieutenant General Surachet Hakpan said they had yet to receive an extradition request from Bahrain for AlAraibi.
AlAraibi is now expected to be returned to Australia on Tuesday.
‘He will be held until the 4th (of December) and if there is no letter from Bahrain seeking extradition then we will return him to Australia,’ he said, adding there is no formal extradition treaty between the two countries.
Bahraini embassy staff in Bangkok declined to comment but earlier tweeted ‘the suspect is wanted for security cases which the embassy is aware of’, adding it was following up with the ‘relevant security authorities’.
The 25-year-old was expected to be returned to Australia on Saturday night but he was stopped from leaving Thailand hours before he was due to board his flight
AlAraibi was detained at Bangkok Airport on November 27 at the request of Bahrain, the country from which he had fled
Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), warned if AlAraibi is extradited he is at ‘great risk of facing torture and unlawful imprisonment’.
He added it would be a breach of international law and ‘the UN and Australian authorities must fight to prevent a disastrous outcome’.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it would be a major test of Thailand’s commitment to respect human rights as Australian had already recognised Araibi’s refugee status.
‘If they send him back it will be an incredible black mark (on Thailand), this guy is a refugee,’ HRW’s Asian division executive director Brad Adams said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has refused to comment on details of the case but Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on Friday officials had raised the case with Thai authorities.
AlAraibi, who plays professional football for the Pascoe Vale team in Melbourne, had been granted refugee travel documents by Australia for his trip to Thailand for a holiday with his wife.