Bahrain blinks, but Hakeem al-Araibi should have never faced this ordeal

Al-Araibi was convicted to 10 years' jail for his alleged role in a 2012 police station attack

Thailand will free by the end of Monday a refugee Bahraini footballer with residency status in Australia who was arrested more than two months ago, a prosecutor in the case said, after Bahrain abandoned its bid to seek his extradition.

However, the Middle East nation has withdrawn the request, leading a Thai court to approve a motion by prosecutors to drop the case against the footballer, said Chatchom Akapin, an official in the Thai Attorney-General's office.

Hakeem Al-Araibi, who is a Bahraini citizen, fled to Australia in 2014 and was granted political asylum.

He was detained upon his arrival in Bangkok in November while on a holiday at the request of Bahrain relayed through Interpol. He has been living in Melbourne, where he plays for a semi-professional soccer team.

He was sentenced in absentia to 10 years for vandalising a police station. He said he believed he was targeted for arrest because of his Shiite faith and because his brother was politically active in Bahrain. "He is at grave risk of unjust imprisonment, torture and other ill-treatment if he is returned to Bahrain".

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Foreign minister Marise Payne said there were still "a number of steps to go in this process" but said al-Araibi would hopefully be back in Australia in the next day or so.

A journalist from the BBC said negotiations between Thailand and Bahrain led to the agreement to drop the extradition request.

The Australian government has repeatedly called for Araibi's return and the case has become a cause celebre in the football world, with FIFA also urging the Thai premier to intervene.

He said Federation Internationale de Football Association has not discussed imposing sanctions on either Bahrain or Thailand over the case.

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