Petition to save detained footballer Al-Araibi nearly reaches target in a day

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Pressure is mounting on Thailand authorities to release former Bahraini footballer Hakeem al-Araibi with an Amnesty International petition receiving 15,000 of a targeted 20,0000 signatures within 24 hours of being posted.

The 26-year-old has been detained in the South-East Asian nation for the past 50 days after Bahraini authorities initiated an INTERPOL Red Notice while he was on holiday in the country with his wife. 

Al Araibi's immediate future remains uncertain with Amnesty International stressing that Al-Araibi will be imprisoned and tortured if Thailand sends him back to Bahrain.

"Former Bahraini national footballer, Hakeem al-Araibi, found refuge and safety in Australia after fleeing torture and persecution in his home country," the petition reads

"Now, he is languishing in immigration detention in Thailand and could be deported back to certain danger in Bahrain.

"We know that Hakeem faces imprisonment and torture if he is sent back to Bahrain. 

"Tell the Thai authorities to release Hakeem immediately, and allow him to return to his friends, colleagues and teammates in Australia." 

In 2014, Al-Araibi was sentenced in absentia by authorities in Bahrain to 10 years in prison on the charge of vandalising a police station during the 2012 Arab Spring protests 

He subsequently fled to Australia in 2014 where he was awarded political asylum before being granted refugee status in 2017.

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The footballer denies the allegations from Bahraini authorities and explained to the New York Times in 2016 that he was playing in a televised game at the time the vandalism he is accused of was said to have taken place.

The petition is aiming to receive 20,000 signatures and looks set to reach that goal with former Socceroo Craig Foster among just a few high-profile Australians to lend their support to the cause.