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Hakeem al-Araibi: Refugee footballer ‘tortured in Thailand’

Hakeem al-Araibi gives a prayer of thanks to supporters gathered for his return in Melbourne

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Hakeem al-Araibi was released in February following a global outcry

A refugee footballer who was detained in Thailand for more than two months says he was tortured by police there.

Hakeem al-Araibi, a Bahraini citizen, was held in Bangkok in November while on his honeymoon at Bahrain’s request.

The Bahraini government accused him of vandalising a police station during the Arab Spring uprising in 2011.

However the 25-year-old was released after a global outcry and diplomatic pressure. The Thai authorities have not responded to his latest comments.

“When they took me to the police station they tortured me for five hours,” Mr al-Araibi told reporters in the Australian city of Sydney.

“They beat my legs very hard and I couldn’t walk. They told me I would never play [football] again.

“Every day I cried until I returned to my wife in Australia. I was very scared I would [have to] return to Bahrain.”

Hundreds of supporters cheered his return at an airport in Melbourne in February. Australian footballer Craig Foster led the successful campaign to release Mr Araibi.

Media captionHakeem al-Araibi thanked Australians for their support on arrival in Melbourne

His wife told the BBC she was deeply thankful for the lobbying efforts of the Australian government and public, and the international football community.

Mr al-Araibi, who plays for the Melbourne team Pascoe Vale FC, became an Australian citizen earlier this month after he passed a citizenship test.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison attended his citizenship ceremony in Melbourne.

Hakeem al-Araibi: Refugee footballer ‘tortured in Thailand’

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