UPDATED: Melbourne-based footballer Hakeem Alaraibi has been freed by the Thai government and is on his way home to Australia.
Alaraibi had been held in a Bangkok jail since November after Interpol wrongly flagged him for arrest and Australian authorities tipped off Thai officials.
Despite checking beforehand that it was safe for him to travel, he was arrested when he touched down in Bangkok while on his honeymoon.
The Pascoe Vale FC footballer has been given political asylum in Australia as a refugee since fleeing Bahrain five years ago after he was jailed and tortured for protesting against the Bahrain government.
We understand that @prayutofficial Govt and court has ruled to release Hakeem. My thanks go to the wonderful people of Thailand for your support and to Thai Govt for upholding international law. My deepest gratitude. Also to everyone who stood for what’s right 👏 #Hakeemhome— Craig Foster (@Craig_Foster) February 11, 2019
PM Scott Morrison tonight confirmed Hakeem has now be freed and will fly home immediately after an intervention by the Thai Attorney General.
He had been held awaiting an extradition hearing, with Alaraibi wanted by Bahrain to face outstanding vandalism charges.
However the former international player was actually live on TV playing for his country when the offences were said to have occurred.
Former Socceroo Craig Foster has been leading a tireless campaign to free the footballer but the Thai authorities have steadfastly refused to bend the law, despite Thailand and Australia admitting the Interpol notice for his arrest had been issued in error.
He appeared in court last week, led into the courthouse in shackles, and was remanded in custody for another 10 weeks until April 22.
A bitter war of words had broken out between Australia and Thailand over his fate and recriminations over who was responsible for his arrest.
But tonight Thai authorities finally relented after Bahrain apparently dropped their extradition demands and allowed Hakeem to be released. He is expected to fly home to his wife in Melbourne tonight, arriving in Melbourne around 1pm tomorrow.
However Bahrain has reiterated their arrest warrant for Hakeem is still current and will seize him if he returns to the country of his birth.
The move comes just days after the two Australians who helped mount the Thai cave rescue, Australians of the Year Craig Challen and Richard Harris, sent a letter to the Thai government, pleading for mercy for Hakeem.
BREAKING: PM Morrison: 'Hakeem al-Araibi has left jail. He is on his way to the airport... What we would like to do tonight is to thank the Thai Govt.. we greatly appreciate them listening to the issues raised by our govt & many others.' Particularly thanks @Craig_Foster .— Karen Middleton (@KarenMMiddleton) February 11, 2019
“We are extremely grateful to the Governments of Thailand and Bahrain for taking the decision to allow Hakeem to return to Australia,” said FFA chairman Chris Nikou
“We have seen our community unite in an extraordinary way over the past few months to campaign for Hakeem’s release.
“We would particularly like to thank former Socceroo Craig Foster for his tireless efforts in leading this campaign and we also acknowledge the work of Professional Footballers Australia, Football Victoria and Pascoe Vale FC."