Bahraini footballer Hakeem al-Araibi set to be released by Thai authorities

Bill Shorten wants to meet with the detained man's wife

Bill Shorten wants to meet with the detained man's

A football player and refugee whose detention in Thailand sparked an outcry will be freed and will return to Australia after Bahrain withdrew its extradition request, officials say.

An official from the Thai attorney general's office, Chatchom Akapin, said on Monday Bahrain had requested the case be dropped after it had sought his extradition.

The statement from Bahrain's Foreign Ministry comes after Thai prosecutors on Monday dropped a case against Hakeem al-Araibi, who then left jail and was on his way to the airport to return to Australia.

A similar campaign was launched on behalf of Araibi by human rights groups, fellow soccer players and other activists - including the heroes who helped save a Thai soccer team trapped in a cave previous year - with the hashtag #SaveHakeem.

Mr Araibi was granted refugee status in Australia after fleeing charges in Bahrain connected to Arab Spring protests but was stopped in Thailand in November attempting to go on his honeymoon.

Al-Araibi was arrested at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport on November 27 when he was reportedly on en route to Australia, where he had been granted residency four years ago. He has been living in Melbourne, where he plays for a semi-professional team.

The state-run Bahrain News Agency (BNA) reported on Sunday that Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa had a phone call with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, but offered no details of their discussions.

However the former global player was actually live on TV playing for his country when the offences were said to have occurred.

"They blindfolded me", he told the Times in 2016.

He is expected to fly home to his wife in Melbourne tonight, arriving in Melbourne around 1pm tomorrow.

Bahrain has a Shia majority but is ruled by a Sunni monarchy.

A Thai court has ordered the release of a refugee soccer player after prosecutors said they were no longer seeking his extradition to Bahrain. Her nightmare will shortly be at an end. "The Bahraini authorities have demonstrated a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to free media, independent political thought, and peaceful dissent", Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, was quoted as saying in January.

In his comments Monday, he said he appreciated the work of all involved in securing al-Araibi's release.

"The football family looks forward to welcoming Hakeem home and providing him with ongoing support after such a hard period", chairman Chris Nikou said.

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