A Thai court has ordered the release of a refugee football player after prosecutors said they were no longer seeking his extradition to Bahrain in a case that has drawn worldwide attention.
Hakeem al-Araibi, who lives and plays professional football in Australia, was being processed for release, a court spokesman said.
Prosecutors submitted to court a request to withdraw the case to extradite the footballer to Bahrain, where he faces a 10-year prison sentence for an arson attack that damaged a police station.
He has denied those charges and says the case is politically motivated.
Prosecutors made the decision after Thailand’s foreign ministry sent their department a letter that indicated Bahrain had withdrawn its request for Mr al-Araibi.
The state-run Bahrain News Agency (BNA) reported on Sunday that Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa had a phone call with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, but offered no specifics on their discussions.
Separately, BNA said Bahrain’s Crown Prince, Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Thailand’s foreign minister, who was visiting the island, on Sunday.
The 25-year-old footballer is a former Bahraini national team player. He has said he fled his home country due to political repression. He has been living in Melbourne, where he plays for a semi-professional football team.
His supporters have said he should be freed and is protected under his status as a refugee with Australian residency.
He was detained upon his arrival in Bangkok in November while on a holiday at the request of Bahrain relayed through Interpol.
- Press Association