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Hakeem al-Araibi, freed from Thai prison, returns to Pascoe Vale: 'It's a very special moment'

Al-Araibi's return to Pascoe Vale was met with a rich and warm reception. It's expected he'll be fit enough to be back in the team within a few weeks.

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Drums, dancers and a dizzying amount of cameras greeted Hakeem al-Araibi on Friday night as the Bahraini refugee watched his semi-professional football club for the first time since his Thai extradition ordeal ended last week.

The large crowd, many wearing #HakeemSaved shirts, traveled from around the country to Pascoe Vale, in Melbourne's north, to celebrate with a footballer they had campaigned to have released from a Thai prison for more than two months.

"The celebrations...

Hakeem al-Araibi arrives back in Australia after being released from Thai prison

Refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi thanked Australians on his return home on Tuesday, hours after the threat of extradition to Bahrain was lifted and more than two months after he was detained in Thailand.

Hundreds of supporters carrying welcome signs and singing "You'll Never Walk Alone" were waiting at Melbourne Airport when Al-Araibi arrived on a commercial flight direct from Bangkok.

"I would like to say thanks to Australia," Al-Araibi told the cheering crowd. "It's amazing to see all of the...

Australia government urges Thailand to free refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi

The Australian government on Tuesday urged Thailand to exercise its legal discretion to free Bahraini refugee football player Hakeem al-Araibi.

The Australian government on Tuesday urged Thailand to exercise its legal discretion to free a refugee football player who lives and plays in Australia and told a Bangkok court that he refuses to be voluntarily extradited to Bahrain.

Hakeem al-Araibi's rejection of extradition means a trial will be held to determine whether Thai authorities will send him to Bahrain, where he fears he is at risk of torture, or release him so he can return to Australia.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne reiterated...

Bahraini refugee Hakeem Al-Araibi could be extradited by Thailand amid protests

Thai prosecutors submitted a request in court Friday for Thailand to extradite to Bahrain a detained football player who has refugee status in Australia.

Hakeem al-Araibi, a former player on Bahrain's national team, has said he fled his home country due to political repression and human rights groups and activists fear he risks torture if he is sent back. Bahrain wants him returned to serve a 10-year prison sentence he received in absentia in 2014 for vandalising a police station, which he denies.

The...

FIFA asks Thai government to release former Bahrain footballer Al-Araibi

The Thai government has been asked by FIFA's leadership to release a Bahraini football player who is in detention while embroiled in extradition proceedings despite having refugee status in Australia.

FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura called for an urgent "humane outcome" to the case of Hakeem al-Araibi, who lives in Melbourne but was arrested while on vacation in Thailand last month on an Interpol notice.

The Australian government has also called for Al Araibi to be returned to his country of...