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Monday, February 11, 2019, 17:02
Thai court orders release of Bahrain refugee soccer player
By Associated Press
Monday, February 11, 2019, 17:02 By Associated Press

In this Feb 4, 2019, file photo, refugee soccer player Bahraini Hakeem al-Araibi leaves the criminal court in Bangkok, Thailand. (SAKCHAI LALIT, FILE / AP PHOTO)

BANGKOK - A Thai court ordered the release of a refugee soccer player on Monday after prosecutors said they were no longer seeking his extradition to Bahrain in a case that had drawn worldwide attention.

Court spokesman Suriyan Hongvilai said that Hakeem al-Araibi, who lives and plays professional soccer in Australia, was being processed for release.

ALSO READ: Thailand: Soccer player must go through extradition hearings

Prosecutors on Monday submitted to court a request to withdraw the case to extradite al-Araibi to Bahrain, where he faces a 10-year prison sentence for an arson attack that damaged a police station. He has denied those charges and says the case is politically motivated.

Prosecutors made the decision after Thailand's foreign ministry sent their department a letter Monday morning that indicated that Bahrain had withdrawn its request for al-Araibi, said Chatchom Akapin, the director general of the attorney general office's international affairs department

In this Feb 4, 2019, file photo, refugee soccer player Bahraini Hakeem al-Araibi leaves the criminal court in Bangkok, Thailand. (SAKCHAI LALIT, FILE / AP PHOTO)

Officials in Bahrain, an island kingdom off the coast of Saudi Arabia that's home to the US Navy's 5th Fleet, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

The state-run Bahrain News Agency reported Sunday that Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa had a phone call with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, but offered no specifics on their discussions.

READ MORE: Thailand blames Australia for arrest of refugee footballer

Separately, BNA said Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa met Sunday with Thailand's foreign minister who was visiting the island. Again, no specifics on their talks was offered.

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