Hakeem Al Araibi's is a professional football player who escaped from Bahraini 5 years ago. The man said that he was afraid to return to his homeland, where he could be killed, because everyone considers him a fugitive.
After the wedding, Al Araibi and his wife went on a honeymoon on the coast of Thailand. After landing in Bangkok, local police waited for a football player to arrest him on an Interpol "red notice". The incident happened last November. Over the next 2 months, sports organizations and law enforcement agencies investigated the arrest and imprisonment of Hakeem Al Araibi.
“Returning to Bahraini is my biggest nightmare. If I return there, they will kill me and my wife,” the man told NBC News.
Hakeem Al Araibi escaped from Bahraini 5 years ago. Local law enforcement authorities accused the man of vandalism during the Arab Spring protests in 2011. Al Araibi was also sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison. The man’s family helped him escape to Australia and obtain refugee status. The Middle East nation calls Hakeem Al Araibi a “vile fugitive.”
“I just wanted to enjoy the honeymoon with my wife, but the arrest in Bangkok was a big surprise for us,” said Al Araibi.
Later, the footballer's wife said that they contacted the Australia's Home Affairs department and made sure that travel would be safe. When the couple boarded a plane at Melbourne airport, Interpol reported this to Thailand and Bahrain.
"We acted on the basis of a message from Interpol. We also received a message from Bahraini after the couple received visas in Australia," the Thai authorities commented.
“We didn’t know about red notice since Hakeem Al Araibi is a protected refugee. After the incident, Interpol canceled the red notice,” the Australian embassy in Thailand said.
After 3 days, law enforcement officials said that Hakeem Al Araibi will be able to leave Bangkok soon. But despite these promises, the football player appeared on the court on Feb. 4. Witnesses heard Al Araibi plead the judge not to send him to the homeland, where he could die.
Australian footballers and sports organizations opposed the "illegal" imprisonment of Hakeem Al Araibi. FIFA leaders supported the footballer too. On Monday, the Attorney General of Thailand announced that the man was released. The next day, Al Araibi returned to Melbourne and met his wife.
“It was the worst trip to Thailand. I'm glad to be in Australia again,” a refugee from Bahraini said.