Australia scraps game in Thailand, campaigns to free refugee:The Asahi Shimbun

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The Thai foreign ministry updated a statement on the case early on Wednesday, which it described as "involving two countries competing for Mr. Hakeem's custody".

Hakeem al-Araibi leaves the criminal court in Bangkok.

"FIFA is committed to protecting human rights".

In the aftermath of his arrest and claims he was tortured, Al-Araibi spoke out strongly against Bahrain royal Sheikh Salman al-Khalifa, then head of the Bahrain Football Association, for not supporting him.

The former Bahraini worldwide will face court again in April as he looks to avoid extradition back to his homeland where he claims he'll face torture and possible death for speaking out against the royal family.

And I'd simply say this, it is within the executive authority of the Thai government to actually enable him under their law to be returned to Australia.

Araibi was stopped at Bahrain's request at a Bangkok airport in November when he arrived in Thailand for his honeymoon.

"It took several days after the arrival of Mr. Hakeem before the Australian authorities informed us that the red notice had been cancelled". "By that time, legal proceedings in Thailand regarding Mr. Hakeem had already started and could not be reversed". "He was shackled and I thought that was very upsetting and I know it would have upset many Australians", he said during an appearance on Sky News Australia.

Australia has called for Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to personally intervene and free the semi-professional footballer.

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A Bangkok court extended Araibi's detention by another two months on Monday, asking him to present his case in April when the judges reconvene.

The former Bahrain national team player said he fled his home country due to political repression and fears he is at risk of being tortured if he returns.

However, al-Araibi supporters have questioned the timeline of his travel, and whether it was coincidentce that Bahrain requested and received its red notice at the same time he organised to travel to Thailand, despite his conviction being five years old by that time.

Foster, who leads the protests for Araibi's freedom, said the case was politically motivated and represented "retribution from Bahrain to Hakeem".

Australia's ambassador to Thailand, who appeared at the court Monday with AlAraibi, said in a statement that Bahrain had never requested AlAraibi's extradition in the four years he has lived in Australia. "And not just to Thailand but also to Bahrain as well, and we are".

"We ask that everyone refrain from prejudging the court's rulings and prematurely jumping to the conclusion that Thailand will extradite Mr Hakeem back to Bahrain", it said.

Thailand's Foreign Affairs Ministry said it had not been previously aware of al-Araibi's case and was not prejudiced against him.

Governing body Football Federation Australia (FFA) on Wednesday cancelled the under-23 men's national team plans to hold a training camp and a friendly game in Thailand ahead of the AFC U23 Championship qualifiers in March. AlAraibi, who fled the kingdom in 2014, says he was playing in a televised match the day the government says he committed the crime.

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