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FFA ditch Olyroos training camp in Bangkok, back Hakeem

FFA ditch Olyroos training camp in Bangkok, back Hakeem”

Australian soccer authorities have canceled a game in Thailand to protest the continued detention in Bangkok of a refugee player who is fighting extradition to Bahrain.

U23's head coach Graham Arnold said: "Last year, the national team department had put some preliminary plans in place to play against China in Bangkok as part of our important preparation for the 2020 AFC U23 Championship qualifiers to be held in Cambodia in March".

In a statement early on Wednesday, the Thai foreign affairs ministry defended Thailand's continuing detention of al-Araibi, a Bahraini refugee who is a resident of Australia.

Mr. Don said yesterday that it was Australian Interpol which first alerted their Thai counterparts of Bahrain's arrest warrant against al-Arabi as Bahraini authorities were asking Thai authorities to have the footballer apprehended.

Al-Araibi, a 25-year-old former Bahraini national team player, has said he fled his home country due to political repression and feared he was at risk of being tortured if he was sent back.

The Thai attorney general has since said Al-Araibi's fate will be decided in the courts and not by the Thai government.

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Worldwide condemnation of al-Araibi's treatment has focused on Thailand's role, particularly since it was confirmed the government has the power to release him.

Bahraini Hakeem al-Araibi, center, leaves the criminal court in Bangkok, Thailand, Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, Feb. 4, 2019.

"The Thai government should see that Bahrain's sole motive is to further punish Hakeem for the peaceful political opinions he expressed", Amnesty International Thailand campaigner Katherine Gerson said in a statement. Australian police acknowledge doing so, but there have been questions raised about why the Red Notice appeared to have been issued just before al-Araibi departed on his trip, and whether Bahraini authorities had been tipped off about his travel plans.

Thailand said previously that it was acting on an Interpol Red Notice request from Bahrain.

Former Australia national soccer team captain Craig Foster, who has been lobbying for al-Araibi's release, shouted words of encouragement to the jailed player. "Be strong. Football is with you", Foster said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said she had visited Bangkok personally to call on Thai authorities to use their discretion in Mr al-Araibi's case.

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"I was very disturbed at the appearance of Hakeem at the hearing the other day".

"I would be very disappointed if as a result of how this was handled that that relationship between the Thai and Australian people were affected", he told reporters in Melbourne on Wednesday.

It also said that under the Public Prosecutors Act, the case against Al-Araibi could be withdrawn as it was not in the public interest, nor related to public safety or security.

On Tuesday, FFA pledged 10,000 Australian dollars (Bt220,000) to kick-start fundraising efforts to help continue the global advocacy campaign to return al-Araibi to Australia. He has claimed that he will be tortured and imprisoned should he be handed over to Bahrain by the Thai authorities.

"If you look at the number of foreign defendants, they pay their bail and jump bail and then don't show up in court", Chatchom Akapin, the office's director general for global affairs, said, adding that the policy applied "not only to Hakeem".

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