Cave boys rescuers appeal for Bahraini football refugee

2019-02-09 at 11:33

Two Australian divers who helped save 12 Thai boys and their football coach from a flooded cave have written to the Thai prime minister to ask for the release of a Bahraini footballer with refugee status in Australia.

The case of Hakeem Al Araibi, 25, has drawn international criticism as a Thai court considers an extradition request from Bahrain for him to serve a 10-year sentence related to the Arab Spring uprising of 2011. He denies the charges.

He was arrested at a Bangkok airport in November when he arrived from Australia with his wife for their honeymoon. He says he faces torture in Bahrain and wants to return to Australia, where he has lived since 2014 and plays for a Melbourne football club.

Divers Richard Harris and Craig Challen were honoured as Australians of the Year in January for their help to rescue a junior football team and its assistant coach trapped in Thailand’s Tham Luang cave in July.

They have now joined a growing campaign to press for the release of Araibi, writing a letter to Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.

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