7 December 2018- GIDHR sources reported that Thai authorities decided to proceed with extraditing Hakeem Al-Araibi. He will be arrested tomorrow and brought to Bangkok Criminal Court (Ratchadaphisek), the sources said. However, a Thai lawyer tried to meet Al-Araibi yesterday but was denied access.
On 5 December, head of Thailand’s immigration bureau said in an interview with BBC that the Bahraini government was aware of Al-Araibi’s flight to Thailand, and coordinated with Thailand’s permanent secretary of foreign affairs to detain him. A story that contradicts with Thailand’s first story that Al-Araiby was arrested on the basis of Interpol’s Red Notice on him.
Earlier this week, Interpol’s Red Notice on Al-Araibi was lifted, however, Thai authorities did not release him nor allow him to return back to Australia,
Hakeem Al-Araibi was arrested on 27 November upon his arrival at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK). He was told that his arrest is on the basis of Interpol’s Red Notice on him.
On 30 November 2018, Alaraibi was told by the Thai immigration authorities that he would be able to fly back to Melbourne on 1 December 2018. A few hours before his scheduled departure, however, AlAraibi was taken to Suan Phlu (Bangkok) Immigration Detention Center where he still remains at risk of extradition.
On 1 December 2018, the Bahraini Embassy in Thailand issued statements on Twitter stating that they are “following up with the relevant security authorities” and that “the suspect is wanted for security cases”.
Commenting, Yahya Alhadid, President of the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) said, “Extraditing Al-Araibi to Bahrain is a blatant breach of the international law, and violates his most basic right to live freely. Bahrain is recognised by the UN Committee against Torture as a space for widespread torture. If deported to Bahrain, Hakeem’s life is at imminent risk and his safety is highly likely to be jeopardised. We fear that the bilateral relations between Thailand and Bahrain have a big impact on Thailand’s decision.”
In November 2012, AlAraibi was arrested and tortured by the Bahraini authorities, allegedly due to the political activities of his brother. He has since spoken publicly about his torture. “They blindfolded me,” he said. “They held me really tight, and one started to beat my legs really hard, saying: ‘You will not play soccer again. We will destroy your future.’ ”
In January 2014, Bahraini authorities sentenced AlAraibi to 10 years imprisonment in absentia on the charge of vandalising a police station, which he strongly deny.
Al-Araibi had arrived in Australia in 2015 and was granted refugee status and permanent residency. He has worked hard to build a future here in Australia. Last season he played for Pascoe Vale Football Club, taking the position of defence. He played at the National premium League for Victoria. He has been signed by the club for the upcoming season in 2019. The Chairman of Pascoe Vale Club, Lou Tona, told the ABC that Al-Araibi “was a respectful kid, a respectful person within the team mates…. He never got out of line, he’s just a quiet unassuming character. I just hope that him and his wife are ok”.