Refugee Shia football player granted Australian citizenship

 

A refugee Shia football player who fled Bahrain and was held in a Thai prison for months during a tense extradition stand-off between Australia and the Gulf state was granted Australian citizenship on Tuesday.

Hakeem al-Araibi, 25, left Bahrain in 2014 after he was accused of crimes committed during the protests of 2011, which he denied. He was granted refugee status in Australia but after an Interpol notice requesting his arrest was made by Bahrain, he was apprehended by Thai authorities in November last year when he flew to Bangkok for a honeymoon.

"I'm an Aussie now," he told reporters in Melbourne after a citizenship ceremony on the banks of the Yarra River that flows through the city.

"I'm very happy to be safe."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who lobbied for his release from detention in Thailand, met Araibi after the citizenship ceremony and handed him the Australian flag lapel pin from his jacket.

 

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