Australia confirm Thailand are LYING about RED NOTICE for the arrest of Bahrain footballer Hakeem al-Araibi
The strongly-worded statement from the Australian embassy in Bangkok comes a day after the Thai Foreign Ministry suggested it had “received the Red Notice alert from the Australian Interpol”.
The Australian statement was designed to “clear up confusion regarding the Interpol Red Notice issued against Hakeem Alaraibi” and make clear Bahrain issued the Red Notice, a form of international arrest warrant, for Araibi’s arrest – not Australia.
The statement admits that Canberra is “reviewing its procedures” after the detention of Araibi, so a case such as Araibi’s does not occur again and confirms Australia notified Thai authorities that Araibi was due to arrive in Bangkok.
The notice should not have been processed as refugees are not supposed to be subject to Red Notices from the country from which they have fled.
“Australia never issued a Red Notice against Mr Alaraibi. This Red Notice was issued by Bahrain on 8 November 2018, shortly before Mr Alaraibi travelled to Bangkok. The Red Notice should never have been issued because of Mr Alaraibi’s status as a protected refugee. This was a breach of Interpol’s regulations,” it said.
“The Australian government was not initially aware of this, and in line with Interpol procedure notified Thailand of Mr Alaraibi’s travel. When the Australian government became aware of the situation, we ensured the red notice was rescinded as soon as possible. This happened on 30 November, only three days after Mr Alaraibi arrived in Bangkok.”
“Australia is reviewing our procedures so that this does not happen again. The Australian government has said unequivocally on many occasions that Hakeem Alaraibi should be returned to Australia, where he is a permanent resident with protected status, as soon as possible.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has already written twice to Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, asking him to intervene and free Araibi. Meanwhile, an international campaign for Araibi’s release — involving FIFA, high profile footballers including former Socceroos Craig Foster and Francis Awaritefe, and diplomatic pressure — is gathering pace.
The 25-year-old Araibi, who has been granted refugee status by Australia, was detained in Bangkok on November 27 when he arrived for a one week honeymoon with his wife.
The refugee footballer remains in detention in the Bangkok Remand Prison and is fighting a formal extradition request from Bahrain, his birth country, because he fears he will be tortured and returned to jail to serve time for vandalising a police station in 2012, a crime he argues he did not commit.
Araibi was playing in a football game that was broadcast on television and which finished about 30 minutes before the crime took place.
Since fleeing Bahrain in 2014, Araibi has lived in Melbourne and plays soccer for Pascoe Vale Football Club.
In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age earlier this week, Araibi spoke about his love for Australia, his anger at having his legs shackled for his court appearance, and asked Mr Morrison to keep fighting for him.
The refugee who had stayed in Australia for five years was playing for his Bahrain club on the day he allegedly attacked a police station.
Earlier on Thursday, Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Deputy Permanent Secretary Thani Thongpakdi said the Australian branch of Interpol had emailed Interpol in Thailand and Bahrain at 10.15am on November 27 to alert them to the fact that Araibi was travelling to Bangkok on a Jetstar flight and was subject to a Red Notice.
“Later that day we received a special note from the Bahraini Embassy, informing us similarly that Mr Hakeem would be arriving in Thailand on this flight,” he said, “they also said that he had a Red Notice which was an outstanding request for his arrest leading to his extradition. They sought our cooperation in this regard.”
Mr Thongpakdi said that an arrest warrant – the Red Notice – had been issued by Bahrain in August 2018. Even after the notice had been rescinded, Bahrain sought and received Thailand’s cooperation in detaining Araibi with a view to extraditing him back to the country of his birth.
He also clarified that it was possible for the Thai Prime Minister to intervene in the case and allow Araibi to return home, but only after the extradition request has gone through court and all appeals have been exhausted.
Araibi’s extradition case will return to court on April 22. – SMH
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