Bahrain Applies For Extradition Of Hakeem al-Alraibi
Bahrain has applied to extradite Melbourne-based refugee Hakeem al-Araibi from a Thai prison, but former Socceroo Craig Foster is optimistic he can be returned home.
The footballer has been held in Thailand since arriving in Bangkok on his honeymoon on November 27, due to a wrongly-issued Interpol red notice.
Foster, who has galvanised support for al-Araibi around the world, met with soccer's governing body FIFA and World Players' Association head Brendan Schwab in Zurich on Monday to push them to help his case.
FIFA has agreed to put pressure on Bahrain after all the public attention has been on Thailand.
"It was a good outcome and we have got FIFA to escalate the issue and to acknowledge it is now an emergency," Foster told AAP from Zurich.
"Bahrain, by what they have done today, have brazenly disregarded the views of 24 million Australians, FIFA, the IOC (International Olympic Commission), several NGOs and many influential people.
"Thailand have acted on the back of an illegal process and that cannot be allowed to happen."
Al-Araibi, who plays soccer for semi-professional Pascoe Vale in the Victorian league, was jailed in absentia in his native Bahrain for 10 years for vandalising a police station during the Arab Spring in 2012.
The 25-year-old was jailed despite submitting evidence he was playing soccer at the time.
Foster asked FIFA general-secretary Fatma Samoura to strongly consider sporting sanctions against Thailand and Bahrain.
Thailand's attorney general is expected to decide al-Araibi's case within a week.
Bahrain's Interior Minister Shaikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa defended his country's pursuit of al-Araibi, saying he had taken part in a "terrorist operation" involving an arson attack and "possession of inflammable bombs".
"Those who speak now of al-Araibi having been mistreated and those who question the integrity of Bahrain's courts ignore the fact that al-Araibi was released on bail."
The minister said al-Araibi was allowed to accompany the Bahraini football team to play in Qatar and from there he fled to Iran.\
He said al-Araibi could challenge the proceedings in the Court of Appeals and then Bahrain's highest court.
"Those raising unfounded doubts about the integrity and independence of the Kingdom's judicial system are not only interfering, but also attempting to influence the course of justice," Al Khalifa said.
Interpol's bureau in Australia notified Thai authorities that al-Araibi was arriving in Thailand, sparking strong criticism of Australia's role in allowing Bahrain to issue a red notice for someone deemed a refugee.
It's understood there are competing views within the Home Affairs portfolio over where the blame lands for al-Araibi's detention.
"The Interpol red notice was not put in place by Australia; the existence of the Interpol red notice would have come to the attention of Thai authorities when the person attempted to enter Thailand," a Home Affairs spokesperson told AAP.
Al-Araibi said he was tortured in Bahrain for criticising a relative of the royal family. He fled to Australia in 2014.
Amnesty International's Claire Mallinson called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to intervene.
"If the extradition request is successful Thailand is potentially sending Hakeem to torture or death," she said.
It is understood Morrison has now raised the matter with Prime Minister of Thailand, Prayut Chan-o-cha.
"We're delighted to hear that the Australian Prime Minister has taken up the issue with General Prayut," Foster told The Project on Tuesday.
"I think the government was sensitive to publicising that too much, and putting the General under too much pressure.
"The next step must be with the Thai ambassador in Canberra."