Thai prosecutors this week asked a Bangkok court to order the extradition of Hakeem al-Araibi, a former Bahrain soccer player, in relation to allegations that he used explosives to damage a police station in his home country.
Hakeem Ali Mohamed Ali AlAraibi, who was detained at Suvarnabhumi Airport in December, arrived at the Ratchadapisek Court this morning and shouted to reporters and observers that he did not want to be sent back. "Bahrain won't defend me".
Araibi was convicted of vandalising a police station in Bahrain and was sentenced to 10 years in prison in absentia.
"The Thai prime minister should simply step up and say this is a politically motivated charge, that the worldwide reputation of Thailand is being damaged, and that Hakeem Al Araibi should immediately be released", he said.
Supporters say that Araibi, as a recognized refugee, should be released and sent back to Australia instead.
Human rights groups have similarly called for Thailand to refuse the extradition, with Evan Jones, the programme director for Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network telling CNN that al-Araibi is a torture survivor and "it is nearly certain that he'd suffer the same fate again if returned to Bahrain".
In Australia, which granted him political asylum in 2017, al-Araibi started playing as a defender for Pasco Vale, a Melbourne-based semi-professional club.
The Bangkok court set an April 22 date for the next hearing.
"We can not have a situation where an athlete is in a country like Thailand and then arbitrarily detained", Foster said from Bangkok on Monday.
The detention - and possible extradition - of al-Araiba has prompted demonstrations in Australia and elsewhere in support of the embattled footballer.
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Instead, it accuses him of witness tampering, obstruction, and false statements about his interactions related to WikiLeaks. He became a focus of the investigation after working on the Trump campaign, which he left early on in August 2015.
The player has said he believes he is being targeted over his criticism of AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, a member of Bahrain´s ruling family.
Bahrain has a Shiite majority population but is ruled by a Sunni monarchy.
"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 premier Scott Morrison has previously called on his Thai counterpart to release the 25-year-old, saying that returning him to Bahrain would infringe on his rights under global law. Thai officials previously said a trial could be lengthy, depending on how many witnesses are called by each side.
Representatives from 13 embassies, including the United States, Australia as well as the European Union attended the hearing on Monday.
"FIFA is committed to protecting human rights".
Bahrain has rejected calls by human rights bodies, including one by the United Nations to free prominent activist Nabeel Rajab, who is being held in jail for posting "false tweets which do not fall within freedom of expression".
He said Federation Internationale de Football Association has not discussed imposing sanctions on either Bahrain or Thailand over the case.
She said she requested his release on bail but it was denied because the court deemed him a flight risk.