Refugee Bahraini footballer, freed from Thai jail, says ‘I love Australia’Hakeem Al Araibi who fled Bahrain in 2014 and received refugee status in Australia, was released from prison in Bangkok on Monday.advertisement Reuters SydneyFebruary 12, 2019UPDATED: February 12, 2019 19:04 IST Hakeem Al Araibi reached Australia on Tuesday after being freed from the Thai jail (Reuters Photo)HIGHLIGHTSHakeem Al Araibi fled Bahrain in 2014 and received refugee status in AustraliaBahrain accused Araibi of crimes committed during the Arab Spring protests of 2011Araibi was released from the Thai prison in Bangkok on Monday amidst cheersA refugee Bahraini footballer who was held in a Thai prison for more than two months at the Gulf state’s request arrived in his adoptive home Australia on Tuesday, television pictures showed, to cheers and the great relief of his wife.Hakeem Al Araibi, 25, who fled Bahrain in 2014 and received refugee status in Australia, was released from prison in Bangkok on Monday. Authorities in Bahrain accused Araibi of crimes committed during the Arab Spring protests of 2011, charges which he denied.”Australia is my country. I don’t have citizenship yet, but my country is Australia … I love Australia, I will die in Australia,” Araibi said after he disembarked in Melbourne airport from a Thai Airways flight.Hundreds of supporters clamoured to embrace him, TV footage showed, and cheered “Welcome home, Hakeem!”. He wore the colours of Pascoe Vale, the semi-professional team he plays for in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city.”Finally, this nightmare has ended,” Araibi’s wife, who has asked for her name not to be published to protect her safety, said in a statement. “My heart is now full with gratitude. Just so thankful that these tears are falling out of relief and joy.”Newlywed Araibi went to Thailand for his honeymoon but was arrested upon arrival in Bangkok in November, following an Interpol “red notice” issued at Bahrain’s request and brought to Thailand’s attention by Australian police.He had been convicted of vandalising a police station in Bahrain and was sentenced to 10 years in prison in absentia.Araibi has denied any wrongdoing, saying that he was playing in a televised match at the time the offence was committed, and was granted asylum in Australia in 2017. Bahrain, however, sought his extradition from Thailand.advertisementHe was freed after nearly three months of high-drama diplomacy, legal manoeuvring by the governments of Australia, Thailand and Bahrain, and a loud public campaign by footballers and human rights activists.WIDESPREAD SUPPORTAustralian Prime Minister Scott Morrison twice wrote to his Thai counterpart to urge Araibi’s release, while Foreign Minister Marise Payne travelled to Bangkok to press for his freedom.Bahrain halted its extradition bid on Monday, while reserving the right to pursue further action against Araibi.Craig Foster, a former Australian soccer captain, also led efforts and drew support from Australia’s leading goal scorer, Tim Cahill, and former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba.”To fight incredibly hard for not just a young player who virtually no one knew, but a refugee who was under our protection … speaks volumes about the character, the values and the pride that we have as Australians,” Foster told reporters in Melbourne after embracing Araibi.Australia has announced a review of its procedures for handling Interpol red notices. It said Araibi’s case, which it flagged to Thai authorities, should never have been issued because of his refugee status.Interpol notices are requested by member countries and are then issued by Interpol after a compliance check, according to Interpol’s website. It is then up to member countries to determine its weight or legal value.Australian police have not commented on the case or their vetting of the notice, beyond confirming that they informed Thailand of Araibi’s impending arrival.International law academic Lorraine Finlay, a lecturer at Perth’s Murdoch University, said it was not clear what process the Australian Federal Police had followed, other than that it appeared to be highly automated.”Now that Hakeem Al Araibi is back in Australia … we need to make sure that no person we offer protection to is ever put in this situation again,” she said.Also Read | England’s World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks dies aged 81Also Read | Emiliano Sala died of head, torso injuries in crashAlso Read | Fire strikes another Brazilian club days after Flamengo tragedy, 2 players in hospitalFor sports news, updates, live scores and cricket fixtures, log on to indiatoday.in/sports. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for Sports news, scores and updates.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Tags :Follow BahrainFollow RefugeeFollow Hakeem Al AraibiFollow ThailandFollow JailFollow Australia Next
Police yesterday said their search teams had recovered over 400 exhibits, samples and items as part of the ongoing police investigation.Scotland Yard also warned that searches for any other potential sites or sources of contamination are expected to continue for several weeks, if not months.AC Basu described the investigation as “one of the most complex and difficult that UK policing has ever faced”.But the fact police have yet to confirm how the bottle came into the possession of Mr Rowley and Miss Sturgess and where they found it has left Salisbury residents deeply uneasy. He was also taken to hospital critically ill, but has since regained consciousness and has been interviewed by police.It is thought Mr Rowley, 45, was able to help detectives as to the whereabouts of the source of the contamination when he emerged from his coma last week. Police have admitted there could still be traces of deadly Novichok nerve agent in Salisbury, prompting renewed concern over the safety of residents and the continued impact on the city’s tourism economy.The warning came after officers discovered a small glass bottle at the Wiltshire home of Charlie Rowley, which has since tested positive for the chemical.Mr Rowley’s girlfriend Dawn Sturgess, 44, died in hospital last Sunday evening after being exposed to the nerve agent the previous weekend. Yulia Skripal, who survived a Novichok assassination attempt on her and her father Sergei, a former Russian spyCredit:Dylan Martinez/PA It is thought they may have come across it in Queen Elizabeth Gardens, close to the centre of Salisbury, before catching a bus to Mr Rowley’s home, where they collapsed within hours of each other. The large park has since been sealed off by police. AC Basu added: “The safety of the public and our officers remains paramount and we are continuing to work closely with Wiltshire Police, scientists, health experts from Public Health England and other partners.”PHE has maintained its advice to the public not to pick up any discarded object in the Salisbury area, such as containers, lids, syringes, needles, cosmetics, which could contain liquid or gel.Scotland Yard said tests at the Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down, Wiltshire, had confirmed to that the substance contained in the bottle was Novichok and further tests are being carried out to establish whether it came from the same batch that contaminated Mr Skripal and his daughter. Further tests on the bottle and its contents are now being carried out and it is hoped it could provide crucial evidence to prove who attacked the former Russian double agent, Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in March.But announcing the discovery of the bottle as “a significant and positive development”, Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the Head of UK Counter Terrorism Policing, also warned: “We cannot guarantee that there isn’t any more of the substance left and cordons will remain in place for some considerable time. This is to allow thorough searches to continue as a precautionary measure for public safety and to assist the investigation team.” Sabrina Burr, 38, who lives less than 200 metres away from Mr Rowley’s home in Muggleton Road, Amesbury, said: “I can’t believe that something so deadly could be so close. It’s scary to think what could have happened, children play around here, what if something happened to them?“I’m quite concerned that anyone around here could have been exposed, it makes me a little angry. Is there more of it?”Ms Burr added: “I’m happy police have found it but I hope this is the only source of it, if they could just pick it up, then anyone could.”Officers yesterday continued their forensic examination of Mr Rowley’s home, where a fire engine and a special incident response ambulance remained in position.Another of Mr Rowley’s neighbours said she is now scared to let her children play either on the green next to his home or in Queen Elizabeth Gardens.She said: “It’s really scary knowing that something that can kill you so easily was just hundreds of metres away from my home and children.“You would see Charlie and Dawn around, they were always very nice, but to think they were carrying something so deadly is horrible.”She added: “It’s scary that they were able to just pick it up off of the floor. I hope there isn’t anymore, but you just never know, I don’t think we will ever know for sure.” The impact of the second Novichok poisoning has left Salisbury’s economy reeling, just as it was starting to recover from the fall out of the attack on the Skripals.Footfall in local shops has dropped by an estimated thirty per cent, a similar drop to that which followed the Skripal attack – but at a time when the cathedral city should be busy with tourists.Local sources say many American coach parties have simply stopped coming to Salisbury, a favourite location close to Stonehenge.The Government is to provide a £5 million recovery package for the city to support businesses, boost tourism and meet unexpected costs.Mr Dean said: “People are very nervous about the continuing economic impact on the area. We have had very poor tourist numbers this year, despite the good weather. People are very concerned about that especially after they had started to feel they had turned a corner after the March attack.” Police outside the home of Charlie Rowley, 45, in Muggleton Road in Amesbury, Wiltshire, where a bottle containing Novichok was foundCredit:Steve Parsons/PA Matthew Dean, leader of Salisbury City Council, told The Sunday Telegraph: “A very big question remains over how the container got there and if it was found by one of them in Salisbury what are the implications for the people of the town.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.