Hakeem al-Araibi to return to Australia after extradition to Bahrain dropped

4 2019 Hakeem al-Araibi a Bahraini refugee and Australian resident is escorted to a courtroom in Bangkok

4 2019 Hakeem al-Araibi a Bahraini refugee and Australian resident is escorted to a courtroom in Bangkok

The extradition case against refugee footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi has been dropped and he is expected to be released from prison on Monday, Thailand's attorney-general's office has confirmed.

The shock move to release Araibi, rather than extradite him to the country of his birth, Bahrain, is a major surprise and one that will delight the thousands of people who have supported his quest for freedom.

The Guardian has been told by Gulf democracy advocates and al-Araibi's Thai lawyer that the Thai government has pulled the extradition case out of the courts.

The state-run Bahrain News Agency reported Sunday that Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa had a phone call with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, but offered no specifics on their discussions.

He travelled to Bangkok for a honeymoon with his wife but was arrested on arrival on 27 November, after Bahrain obtained an Interpol arrest warrant.

Al-Araibi plays for Pascoe Vale FC in Melbourne.

Al-Araibi has said he was blindfolded and had his legs beaten while he was held in Bahrain previously.

His supporters have said he should be freed and is protected under his status as a refugee with Australian residency.