Hakeem al-Araibi set to be released
Refugee to Australia and renowned footballer Hakeem al-Araibi, who is currently behind bars in Thailand, is set to be released.
According to Associated Press, a Thai court has ordered Mr al-Araibi's release after prosecutors said they were no longer seeking his extradition to Bahrain.
He could be on his way home to Australia as soon as this evening, Bangkok time.
Former Australia player and SBS football presenter Craig Foster, who has led the campaign to free Mr al-Araibi said the footballer's wife's "nightmare will shortly be at an end"
Court spokesman Suriyan Hongvilai said Monday that Hakeem al-Araibi was now being processed for release. AP reported it had spoken to a senior Thai official who has said Thailand has "no reason" to keep him in the country any longer.
Mr Al-Araibi, 25, was detained at Bangkok airport on November 27 when he arrived in Thailand for his honeymoon with his wife.
The arrest was made after Bahrain issued an Interpol Red Notice for his detention on November 7. Australia came under fire for passing on the notice to Thai authorities before his arrival.
Mr Al-Araibi had been held at the Bangkok Remand Prison for two months after Bahrain said it would proceed with the extradition.
He was sentenced to 10 years' jail in absentia for vandalising a police station in 2012, despite footage of him playing in a televised football game minutes before the attack.
Mr al-Araibi is a refugee living in Australia and has said he would be in grave danger if he was returned to Bahrain.
A global outcry ensued over the risks he faced if he were to be sent back home.
On Monday, Chatchom Akapin, director general of the International Affairs Department said the process is underway to release him.
He told BBC Thai they were informed by the Foreign Ministry that Bahrain wanted to drop the case, but he did not know the reason why. He said the decision was made under Section 21 of the Prosecution Act which allows for cases to be dropped if they are not in the public interest. "We had a phone call from the Foreign Affairs Ministry this morning and they said Bahrain doesn't want him anymore," Mr Chatchom said.
"If they don't want him, we have no reason to keep him here,"
Craig Foster had championed Mr al-Araibi's plight, even travelling to Thailand to lend his support. On Monday evening he tweeted that "our prayers answered".
Earlier on Monday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has urged Australians to be patient over the case.
The case of Melbourne-based Mr al-Araibi, 25, has drawn international criticism as a Thai court considers an extradition request from Bahrain.
Mr Morrison has written twice to the Thai prime minister asking for Mr al-Araibi's release, but he remains locked up awaiting an April court hearing. "It's not my job to get upset - it's my job to get him home and that's what we're working towards," Mr Morrison said in an address to the National Press Club. "But I would ask Australians, who I know desperately want to see him come home, that we have to manage this carefully.
"We have to be patient. It's not a straight up and down issue. I know it looks like one." Thailand has blamed Australia's Interpol office for alerting them to an international red notice on Mr al-Araibi's passport, but Australia says Bahrain should never have issued the notice in the first place.
Mr Morrison did not answer a question about Australia's role in Mr Al-Araibi's detention, or what steps have been taken to ensure it isn't repeated.
"I'm not at liberty to go to the last part of that question because of the matters it relates to," Mr Morrison said.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is set to meet with Mr al-Araibi's wife in Canberra on Wednesday.
Cave diving heroes and Australians of the Year Dr Richard Harris and Dr Craig Challen on the weekend joined the campaign to release Mr al-Araibi. The pair played a crucial role in the daring rescue of 12 young boys and their coach from a flooded cave in Thailand, drawing worldwide praise.