Cave Diving Heroes Call for Bahraini Footballer’s Release from Thai Prison
By Staff, News Agencies
Cave diving heroes and Australians of the Year Dr. Richard Harris and Dr. Craig Challen have joined the campaign to save refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi, writing to the prime minister of Thailand to release him from jail.
According to the ABC a letter was sent a few days ago to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha asking him to consider freeing al-Araibi, who is waiting for an extradition hearing to return to Bahrain.
The Melbourne-based footballer was detained on November 27 by Thai authorities when he arrived for his honeymoon.
His family has accused the Thai government of human rights violations and called on it to immediately release their detained son.
In a statement provided to SBS News from Bahrain on Friday, al-Araibi's family said the two-month detention was "unjust" and constituted "a crime committed by the government of Thailand".
Furthermore, al-Araibi's family stressed his innocence, "based on clear and irrefutable evidence".
"[He] is being accused of a crime that occurred while he was playing in a nationally-televised game in [Bahrain’s] domestic league at the Muharraq Stadium. The game was aired live on the Bahrain Radio and Television Corporation."
"We also reiterate our fear for his life if he is returned to Bahrain where he has been subjected to torture and ill-treatment despite not having committed any offence," they said.
It comes as supporters of the detained refugee footballer urgently try to raise $225,000 for a bail application to free him from prison.
Officials have contacted his legal team and said there is a chance bail might be granted.
His lawyer Nadthasiri Bergman said she is preparing a bail submission and would make the offer that al-Araibi wear an electronic monitoring bracelet and have his movements restricted.
"We will tell them that he will remain in one place and if he travels outside of Bangkok, or anything like that, we will notify authorities of his movement," Bergman said.
Relatedly, the footballer's family said they had documentation from the Bahrain Football Association confirming he was on field at the time of the alleged offence, saying he's innocent.
Al-Araibi has said he faces possible death should he be deported to Bahrain, concerns shared by his relatives.