STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE AUSTRALIAN AMBASSADOR TO THAILAND AS DELIVERED AT BANGKOK CRIMINAL COURT ON 4 FEBRUARY 2019
The Government of Bahrain knew very well that Hakeem al-Araibi lived in Australia since 2014. During these four years, the Bahraini Government did not attempt to ask Australia about Hakeem at all or to request to send him back to Bahrain
However, as soon as Hakeem and his wife travelled to Thailand for their honeymoon, the Government of Bahrain expedited its coordination with the Thai Government to have Hakeem arrested and commence extradition proceedings immediately.
The actions of the Bahraini Government have put Thailand in a very difficult position.
In particular, during what is an important year for the people and country of Thailand.
I reiterate once again that the Government of Australia would like Hakeem al-Araibi to be returned to Australia as soon as possible. He is a refugee and permanent resident of Australia.
Hakeem is a loved football player for Pascoe Vale FC and has football fans across the country.
We hope that Hakeem will be able to go back to be with his family and his wife in the coming days.
TRANSCRIPT OF PRESS CONFERENCE WITH THE AUSTRALIAN AMBASSADOR-DESIGNATE TO THAILAND ALLAN MCKINNON
JAMES MASSOLA, FAIRFAX MEDIA: The clear message here is that Prayut Chan-o-cha should intervene and allow Hakeem al-Araibi to return to Australia. Is that your message today?
ALLAN MCKINNON: That is our message today. We are asking Prime Minister Prayut to allow Hakeem al-Araibi to return to Australia. He is a refugee, allow him to return to Australia to his friends and his family and the Australian community.
ANNE BARKER, ABC NEWS: So you want this case effectively cancelled, annulled?
ALLAN MCKINNON: We understand from the public announcement from the Office of the Attorney-General on Friday that there is executive authority with the Thai Government to cease this case at any time. This was confirmed by the prosecutor in comments today. So the Thai Government can act and with respect we’re asking the Thai Government to act now to free Hakeem al-Araibi and allow him to go back to Australia.
ANNE BARKER, ABC NEWS: What will Australia do if they don’t do that?
ALLAN MCKINNON: We will keep working to persuade the Thai Government that they should do that.
JAMES MASSOLA, FAIRFAX MEDIA: Should Thailand be suspended from playing at an international level by FIFA?
ALLAN MCKINNON: That’s a question for Thailand to consider the ramification of its actions for its relationships with other bodies and other governments. But Australia will continue to press and as you said, there was 15 countries or more here today to observe these proceedings, they were also asking the same thing. Many of them have participated with Australia in putting these views directly to the Thai Government.
ANNE BARKER, ABC NEWS: Will Australia consider sanctions against the Thailand if it fails to act—
ALLAN MCKINNON: What we are considering at the moment is anything we can do to increase, to more rapidly move Hakeem al-Araibi out of detention and have this case finished and allow him to go back to Australia.