Football Federation Australia says it's trying to bring international pressure to bear to save an Australian football refugee from being extradited back to Bahrain where it's feared he will be tortured and jailed.
Pascoe Vale FC's (and former Bahrain international footballer) Hakeem al-Araibi has been held at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport since last month while the Thai government decide his fate.
The defender was held under an Interpol red notice requested by Bahrain after al-Araibi fled the country in 2014, two years after he was imprisoned and tortured there for criticising the Bahrain royal family.
Al-Araibi, 25, was granted asylum by Australia last year and granted permanent residency. He was also told by the Australian government that it was safe for him to travel.
The Interpol notice has since been lifted but the Thais have continued to hold al-Araibi with a view to extraditing him, despite mounting pressure, including from Amnesty International.
Now the FFA say they have been monitoring his situation and contacted the Australia's foreign minister Marisa Payne and her department to petition for his release and safe return.
They have also been in touch with the Thai ambassador to Australia and the Thai FA.
"FFA has received correspondence from Mr al-Araibi’s club Pascoe Vale FC, as well as Football Victoria, Professional Footballers Australia, FIFA and a number of other members of the football family in Australia who have expressed concern about Mr al-Araibi’s situation," the FFA said in a statement today.
"FFA recognises and welcomes advice that the Australian Government has formally requested the Government of Thailand release Mr al-Araibi from detention and allow him to return to Australia as soon as possible.
"FFA also understands that senior Australian Government officials will continue to make high level diplomatic representations with their Thai counterparts on this matter, and that these talks will be ongoing. "
Australian embassy officials in Bangkok have been visiting al-Araibi to check on his welfare and are in regular contact with his lawyer, said Senator Payne's office.
She has demanded his immediate release and added: "Returning Mr Al-Araibi to Bahrain, from where he fled, would contravene his rights under international human rights law."