Thailand to Discharge Soccer Player Facing Extradition to Bahrain

A court in Thailand on Monday approved a government request to drop the extradition case against a soccer player who faced being sent back to his native Bahrain, where he said he could most likely be jailed in addition to tortured. The move paves the way for the player, Hakeem al-Araibi, to return to Australia, where he has refugee status.

Mr. al-Araibi, 25, who had been a star defender for the Bahraini national soccer team, fled the modest Gulf nation in 2011 during a crackdown on Arab Spring protesters. He said he had been tortured by government security forces. He at which point plays soccer for a minor team in Melbourne, Australia.

After his arrest in November at an airport in Bangkok, where he in addition to his wife had traveled for their honeymoon, he became the focus of lobbying by diplomats, prominent sports figures in addition to a social media campaign under the hashtag #savehakeem.

A lawyer for Mr. al-Araibi said she expected he could be released by custody later Monday evening in addition to fly back to Australia as soon as his departure was approved.

“which will be the best outcome,” said the lawyer, Natalie Bergman. “the idea should have happened by the beginning, nevertheless later will be better than nothing.”