Hakeem al-Araibi: Wife of detained Bahraini footballer begs for his release | News | DW | 30.01.2019
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Hakeem al-Araibi: Wife of detained Bahraini footballer begs for his release

The wife of jailed refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi has written a personal plea to Thailand's prime minister to send him back to Australia, warning that "time is running out" as he fights extradition to Bahrain.

The wife of refugee footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi on Wednesday pleaded with Thailand not to extradite her husband to his native Bahrain.

"Please help my husband. I don't want to lose him," she wrote in an open letter to Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. 

"He would go back to imprisonment, torture and possible death ... I am terrified that the final decision to deport him will take place within the next few days."

The 25-year-old fled Bahrain in 2014, after allegedly being tortured for political activity in the 2011 Arab Spring.

He was granted refugee status in Australia three years later.

Watch video 01:45

Calls grow for release of Bahraini footballer

Araibi was traveling with his wife to Thailand for their honeymoon when authorities arrested him in November on an Interpol red notice issued by Bahrain.

He faces ten years in prison in his home country for vandalizing a police station. However, the conviction has been widely discredited, as the footballer was playing in a televised football match at the time of the alleged crime.

The Australian government has joined human rights groups in calling for Araibi's release. Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday penned a letter to his Thai counterpart, saying he believed extradition would infringe on international human rights law, a local newspaper reported.

A foreign ministry spokeswoman said the government was making "extensive efforts" to secure Araibi's return.

"The Thai and Bahraini governments are well aware, at all levels, of the importance of this matter to Australia," she said.

Read more: Human Rights Watch: 'Extradition of Hakeem Al-Araibi would be completely unacceptable'

Human rights groups claim Araibi and his brother were tortured for political activity during the Arab Spring of 2011. Human Rights Watch spoke with him on December 5, and told DW the footballer feared he would be forced to say certain things if he were to be returned and asked that these not be believed.

Watch video 01:20

Bahraini soccer player al-Oraibi fears extradition

nn/rt (AFP, Reuters)

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