Hakeem Al-Araibi, a soccer player originally from Bahrain but currently living in Australia, was released from prison in Thailand where he was arrested all the way back in November while on his honeymoon. Al-Araibi had gained refugee status in Australia after fleeing Bahrain following his participation in the Arab Spring protests in 2012.
Bahrain has said that he is wanted for vandalizing a police station. Al-Araibi denies the charges and says that the arrest warrant is politically motivated because of his statements against the Bahraini government.
When word got out that he had been arrested in Thailand, there was an outcry both among Australians and the international soccer community. Protests, rallies, and political pressure were eventually successful, and Bahrain dropped the arrest warrant filed through Interpol. Once that extradition request was pulled, Thailand had no reason to hold him any longer.
The incident also created a possible scandal within FIFA, the soccer league. One of the leaders of the league is also a member of the Bahraini royal family. Some speculated that FIFA may have been a little slow to take up al-Araibi’s cause as a result.
Al-Araibi seemed surprised when he landed in Australia and saw everyone who was there to support him. He thanked everyone who had spoken out for him and spoke glowingly about Australia and his intention to remain there for the rest of his life.