BANGKOK (AP) — Rights groups are urging Thai authorities not to deport a Bahraini professional soccer player to his homeland, where he faces imprisonment for what his supporters say are political reasons.
Human Rights Watch says Hakeem Ali Mohamed Ali AlAraib was tortured after a 2012 arrest and fled in 2014 to Australia, which granted him political asylum last year. He now plays for Melbourne's Pascoe Vale Football Club. He has been publicly critical of Bahrain's royal family.
The New York-based group says Hakeem was detained Tuesday at Bangkok's international airport on the basis of an Interpol notice issued at the request of Bahraini authorities. It says he is sought because he was sentenced in absentia in 2014 to 10 years in prison for allegedly vandalizing a police station, an allegation he denies.