Hakeem Al-Araibi to be released by Thailand court

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The state-run Bahrain News Agency reported Sunday that Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa had a phone call with Thai Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, but offered no specifics on their discussions. "But as is always in these cases, people aren't home until they're home".

In a brief statement released Monday, Bahrain's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it "takes note of the halt in legal proceedings against Hakeem Al Araibi in Thailand".

Officials in Bahrain, an island kingdom off the coast of Saudi Arabia that's home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, said the country "reaffirms its right to pursue all necessary legal actions against" al-Araibi.

Al-Araibi was detained at Bangkok airport on November 27 when he arrived in Thailand for his honeymoon with his wife.

"We have been informed that Bahrain wants to withdraw the (extradition) request. if they don't want him, we have no reason to keep him here", he told AFP.

Araibi was released from prison shortly afterward, and Thai officials said he would fly out that night.

Campaigners believe the case was bogus and have unearthed footage they say supports his claim that he was playing in a televised match at the time.

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"The decision to issue an global arrest warrant stems from Mr.al-Araibi's decision to flee while awaiting trial", the state news agency wrote. "The Bahraini authorities have demonstrated a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to free media, independent political thought, and peaceful dissent", Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, was quoted as saying in January.

He has said he was blindfolded and had his legs beaten while he was held in Bahrain previously.

Australian Prime Minister praised the decision and said late Monday that al-Araibi was on his way to the airport. "My life is in danger". Yet, Australia's Embassy in Thailand released a statement indicating it may have contributed to his arrest in Bangkok by notifying Thailand of his travel. Al-Araibi has refugee status in Australia.

"Australia is reviewing our procedures so that this does not happen again", the Embassy said. There was no equivalent of the #SaveHakeem campaign now catching on online when, for example, Thailand turned over a planeload of asylum-seekers to China in 2015, flown back with their heads covered in black hoods and flanked by masked Chinese security agents. On Monday, they celebrated news of his release.

"We salute the tireless campaigning of Craig Foster and Professional Footballers Australia to secure Hakeem's release".

Human rights activists in Bahrain have also welcomed the news.

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