2/5/2019 1:27:12 PM (GMT+3)

Australian federation chips in for Bahrain's refugee footballer

Australian federation chips in for Bahrain
SYDNEY: Football Federation Australia have ramped up their campaign to free jailed Bahraini refugee player Hakeem Al Araibi and pledged A$10,000 ($7,263) on Tuesday to kickstart a fundraising drive to help efforts to have him returned to Australia from Thailand.

Araibi was arrested in Thailand last November on behalf of the Bahraini government. A Bangkok court on Monday ordered him to continue be detained for another two months until an extradition hearing could be held.

The FFA and Australian Government, as well as FIFA and the international players' union FIFPro have all advocated for the release of Araibi, who has said he fears for his safety if he is returned to Bahrain.

"Hakeem Al Araibi is a permanent Australian resident and footballer at Pascoe Vale FC," FFA chief executive David Gallop said in a statement on Tuesday.

"After a thorough process, he was assessed by the Australian Government to be a refugee. This is a fundamental human right that must be protected," Gallop added. 

Araibi, who fled Bahrain in 2014 was allegedly tortured by Bahraini authorities because of his brother's political activities during the Arab Spring uprising in 2011, New York-based Human Rights Watch has said.

He played for Melbourne's second tier Pascoe Vale soccer club, was arrested on an Interpol notice issued at Bahrain's request, which was later cancelled.

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