Australia captain demands bans for Bahrain and Thailand until refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi released from prison

Australia captain demands bans for Bahrain and Thailand until refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi released from prison

The former captain of Australia has said that Bahrain and Thailand should be barred from hosting international sport until Hakeem al-Araibi, the refugee footballer, is released from prison.

Al-Araibi’s case has gained worldwide support, including from Didier Drogba and Jamie Vardy, after he was arrested in Thailand. The footballer, who has been playing for Australian side Pascoe Vale, was granted refugee status in Australia in 2017, three years after he fled there from his native Bahrain.

Al-Araibi claims he was tortured following the Arab Spring protests and was later sentenced to 10 years in prison for vandalising a police station, even though he was playing in a televised match at the time.

The 25-year-old was on his ­honeymoon in November when detained at Bangkok airport by Thai authorities, who were acting on an Interpol arrest warrant that has since been declared invalid.

Craig Foster, the former Australia captain who also played for Portsmouth and Crystal Palace, is leading the campaign to free Al-Araibi, who has been given 60 days to prepare a defence against the ­attempts to extradite him.

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