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Thailand on Monday freed a jailed refugee Bahraini footballer with residency status in Australia, after Bahrain abandoned its bid to seek his extradition, and immigration officials said he was immediately driven to the airport.

"We have been informed that Bahrain wants to withdraw the (extradition) request".

Chatchom Akapin, director-general of the International Affairs Department, said the Foreign Ministry had informed his office that Bahrain has made a decision to withdraw its extradition request, hence there is no reason to keep al-Araibi in detention.

Chatchom said that Al-Araibi must now be released as soon as possible.

FILE PHOTO: Jailed Bahraini footballer Hakeem Al Araibi leaves Thailand's Criminal Court, in Bangkok, Thailand February 4, 2019.

A report commissioned by Bahrain's own monarch in 2011 found authorities engaged in "a systematic practice of physical and psychological mistreatment, which in many cases amounted to torture, with respect to a large number of detainees in their custody".

Separately, BNA said Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa had met Thailand's foreign minister, who was visiting the island, on Sunday.

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The detention of Araibi, who appeared with his feet in shackles at a court hearing last week, drew global criticism, with Australian authorities and fellow footballers urging Thailand to release him. He has denied those charges and says the case is politically motivated.

Before the soccer player's release, Thailand's Foreign Ministry last week released a defensive statement in which it claimed that Thai authorities "would not have become involved in the issue had we not received the red notice alert from the Australian Interpol and the subsequent formal request by Bahrain for his arrest and extradition".

Mr Araibi has said he was blindfolded and had his legs beaten while he was held in Bahrain previously. Authorities in the Middle Eastern nation have not responded to media inquiries.

Only last week it issued a statement defending its decision to pursue the footballer after he fled while awaiting trial.

A Reuters witness said Araibi was seen leaving the Bangkok remand prison in a auto and immigration officials said he was heading for the main worldwide airport in the Thai capital.

The player's Australia lawyer Latifa Al-Haouli of Sabelberg Morcos Lawyers, told SBS News on Monday legal staff were working with Thailand's department of corrections to secure Mr Al-Araibi's return to Australia.


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