Australia scraps game in Thailand, campaigns to free refugee

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Despite calls from Australia for the Thai government to intervene and secure Al- Araibi's release, the Office of the Attorney-General said on Wednesday the case would proceed and the footballer was likely to be in custody until at least August.

"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".

"We are in the process of rearranging our pre-tournament camp in another Asian nation", Arnold said.

The FFA wants Al-Araibi returned to Australia "as a matter of urgency". We'll just consider the case based on the law and the need to maintain neutrality.

The Bangkok court has set an April 22 date for its next hearing.

According to the Guardian, coach Graham Arnold said Australian national teams stood with al-Araibi, who faces another two months in a Thai jail before discovering his fate.

Thailand does not view Al-Araibi's case as a politically motivated matter.

The Thai attorney-general's office told reporters on Wednesday that with extradition requests, bail would be opposed.

"And it is [neither] political offense nor military offense, and it has not fallen into any exception", said spokesman Trumph Jalichandra.

"We've also been pressing that case with the governor of Bahrain as well".

Federico Addiechi, a representative of Federation Internationale de Football Association, soccer's world governing body, also attended Monday's hearing and said the organization will continue to support al-Araibi.

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It said Thailand became involved "by chance", after a police bureau that handles Interpol matters in Australia notified Thai authorities that al-Araibi had boarded a flight to Bangkok and was the subject of a "red notice" initiated by Bahrain.

Hakeem al-Araibi, a Bahraini refugee and Australian resident, is escorted to a courtroom in Bangkok February 4, 2019.

"Thailand had previously not been aware of Mr. Hakeem's case and does not have any prejudice against him", the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

The red notice was cancelled within days, but Thailand said because Bahrain had also made a formal extradition request he could not be released.

The former Bahrain national team player said he fled his home country due to political repression and fears he is at risk of being tortured if he returns.

"FIFA is committed to protecting human rights. And therefore, under global law, he should not be a subject of these proceedings".

Bahrain's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Sunday Araibi had fled the country while awaiting trial on charges of arson, and that issuing an global warrant for his arrest is "standard practice".

Thailand has come under great pressure from Australia's government, sporting bodies and human rights groups to send Hakeem al-Araibi back to Australia.

The Foreign Ministry's statement seems to contradict an earlier claim by Thai Immigration chief Police Lieutenant General Surachet Hakparn that Bahrain knew of al-Araibi's travel plans prior to his arrival.

However, Araibi has said he believes he is being targeted over his criticism of Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa, a member of Bahrain's ruling family.

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