The Australian government is calling for the immediate release of a Melbourne-based refugee from Thai detention, amid fears he could be tortured if an extradition request made by Bahrain is carried out.
Hakeem Ali AlAraibi – a Bahraini national – was detained at Bangkok Airport in November and remains in custody despite being cleared to return home after an Interpol Red Notice used to detain him was lifted.
Amnesty International has joined calls for his release and said that as a recognised refugee, he should never have been detained in Thailand upon Bahrain’s request.
In a statement, Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said the Australian government was concerned by Mr AlAraibi’s detention and was calling for his “immediate return” to Australia.
“I have raised the matter with my Thai counterpart, His Excellency Mr Don Pramudwinai, requesting that Thailand allow Mr AlAraibi to return to Australia as soon as possible,” Senator Payne said.
“Returning Mr AlAraibi to Bahrain, from where he fled, would contravene his rights under international human rights law.”
She said officials from the Australian embassy in Bangkok had visited Mr AlAraibi to check on his welfare and they are in regular contact with his lawyer.
Mr AlAraibi is a former member of Bahrain’s national soccer team, and had been critical of the country’s Royal family.
After he was allegedly tortured by Bahraini authorities in 2012 and fled the country two years later, Mr AlAraibi was granted asylum in Australia last year.
The soccer player was detained in Thailand after Bahrain issued an international alert via Interpol, accusing him of vandalising a police station.
Mr AlAraibi denied the charge and said he was advised by Australian officials his refugee status would make it safe for him to travel.
Mr AlAraibi says he was tortured in Bahrain, which prompted him to flee to Australia in 2014.