BANGKOK — Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said the release of Hakeem AlAraibi was due to Bahrain’s desire for Thailand not to be in a difficult position.
Speaking Tuesday about his recent trip to Manama to meet Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salam Al Khalifa, Don praised the gulf kingdom for its sensitivity. He said Bahrain looked at the issue from the perspective of the two nation’s special relationship and did not want to see Thailand criticized for something it was uninvolved in.
“Bahrain is aware that Thailand is being pressured and recognizes that this is an important year for Thailand,” Don said, in a reference to the coronation of King Rama X set for May 4 to May 6. “They don’t want the issue to drag on and do not want Thailand to feel burdened. Bahrain is a good friend, and I insist the trip was made not because Thailand was pressured but because Bahrain thinks it is a matter that needs to be resolved.”
AlAraibi was freed Monday more than two months after his Nov. 27 arrest in Bangkok. Thai immigration police cited an Interpol Red Notice in his detention, though it was later withdrawn after Australia protested that it had been mistakenly issued as AlAraibi is a political refugee there.
Bahrain wanted AlAraibi on alleged counts of arson and vandalism and sought his extradition from Thailand. AlAraibi maintains he fled political persecution in his home country and would face it again were he forced to return. He also denies the charges and says he was playing in a televised football match on the day of his alleged crime.
After Bahrain’s extradition request was withdrawn Monday, the Criminal Court ordered AlAraibi freed after he had spent two and a half months in prison. AlAraibi left Bangkok after midnight early Tuesday morning and arrived in Melbourne later in the day.
Don added that Bahrain’s arrest warrant against AlAraibi remains in place.