Supporters greet refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi (center) as he arrives at Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne, Australia, February 12, 2019. AAP Image/David Crosling via REUTERS
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Refugee footballer freed by Thailand returns to AustraliaA refugee football player thanked Australians on his return home Tuesday hours after the threat of extradition to Bahrain was lifted and three months after he was detained in Thailand.Thailand had come under great pressure from Australia's government, sporting bodies and human rights groups to send Araibi back to Australia, where he has refugee status and plays semi-professional soccer.Two Australian expert cave divers who had helped rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded Thai cave in July also wrote to the Thai prime minister last week pleading for Araibi's release.Thailand's Foreign Ministry said last week that Araibi was detained because Australian authorities had forwarded them an Interpol Red Notice that Bahrain was seeking his arrest.Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade should have advised al-Araibi not to travel until the Red Notice was revoked, Goodwin-Gill said.It was not clear whether Australia had informed Bahrain that Araibi was flying, although Bahrain requested the Red Notice on the same day that Araibi received his Thai visa, Goodwin-Gill said.
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