Thai court orders release of refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi

The ACTU is urging Western Sydney Wanderers to do more for Hakeem Al-Araibi

But Araibi says the case is bogus and tied to his criticism of Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, a member of Bahrain's ruling family. He was seen talking happily as he walked past the gate to board his plane.

Araibi has said he wants to return to Australia, where he has lived since 2014 and plays for a Melbourne football club.

Bahrain has hauled in Australia's ambassador after Hakeem al-Araibi, the Melbourne refugee footballer it wanted to extradite from Thailand, was put on a flight back home.

"It's incredible to see all of the people here", Mr Al-Araibi told the crowd. Instead, he was taken into custody on an Interpol "red notice" issued by Bahrain, allowing Thai police to provisionally arrest him pending extradition.

However, Bahrain's foreign ministry said the government will be maintaining the criminal conviction against him and the possibility of pursuing further legal action. Araibi denies the charges, saying he was playing in a televised soccer match at the time of the police station attack.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters on Monday he was thankful to Bangkok for "listening to the issues" raised by his nation. He was detained upon his arrival in Bangkok in November while on a holiday at the request of Bahrain relayed through Interpol - from the global police body's Australian office. However, the 10-year jail sentence on al-Araibi remained in place.

Bahrain has denied allegations of torture and said Mr Araibi is a fugitive who should be returned.

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A similar campaign was launched on behalf of Araibi by human rights groups, fellow soccer players and other activists - including the heroes who helped save a Thai soccer team trapped in a cave previous year - with the hashtag #SaveHakeem.

Former Socceroos captain Foster led the campaign to free Al-Araibi, who had been detained in a Bangkok jail since late November after Interpol flagged a red notice for his arrest.

Sayed Ahmed al-Wadaei, from the London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, said the decision was a huge victory for the human rights movement in Bahrain and the rest of the world.

Australia's prime minister has thanked Thailand for its decision to no longer seek the extradition to Bahrain of a refugee soccer player who lives in Melbourne.

Bahrain's Foreign Ministry said yesterday it had learned about the withdrawal of the extradition case by the Thai side.

"This is a win for humanity, for the power of the citizen of the world demanding that human rights be protected, a step forward for Thailand, a challenge for Australia and the beginning of a broader fight for the values of sport", Foster said via his Facebook account.

An Interpol red notice had been issued for Araibi's detention by Bahrain, but the notice should never have been issued as refugees can not be returned to the country from which they have fled.

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