Bahrain hands over al-Araibi documents

Penny Wong has questions about Australia's involvement in the detention of a refugee in Thailand.
Penny Wong has questions about Australia's involvement in the detention of a refugee in Thailand.

Bahrain has hauled in Australia's ambassador after Hakeem al-Araibi, the Melbourne refugee footballer it wanted to extradite from Thailand, was put on a flight back home.

Foreign minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa gave Ambassador Ridwaan Jadwat, "relevant court documents" related to al-Araibi's extradition, including an international arrest warrant, the Kingdom of Bahrain said in a statement published on Tuesday.

It is unclear whether the kingdom is now asking Australia to extradite al-Araibi Bahrain.

The statement says in the part: "The aforementioned convictions are the legal basis on which the extradition request to Australian authorities was sought by the Ministry of Justice through diplomatic channels."

Clarification is being sought from the Australian government.

Australia lobbied Thailand for al-Araibi's release after he was detained at Bangkok airport on November 27, because he was wanted by Bahrain which convicted him in absentia for vandalising a police station in 2012.

The footballer denies this and says he was playing in a televised soccer match when the police station attack took place.

The Thai government dropped the extradition case and freed the 25-year-old on Monday night.

The federal opposition believes Australian authorities now have questions to answer over the affair.

"I think one of the key issues is whether the automated Interpol red notice system is fit-for-purpose when it comes to people like Hakeem who are refugees," foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong told ABC radio.

"I think that needs to be explored."

Australian Federal Police notified Thailand that al-Araibi was on his way and subject to an Interpol red notice, without mentioning he was a refugee with Australian protection.

Senator Wong intends to pursue the issue during budget estimates hearings in Canberra next week.

"I'd encourage the government to be upfront about this," she said.

"I think the Australian community does want to know how this occurred, and we do need to consider whether the system is fit-for-purpose."

Greens leader Richard Di Natale wants to launch an inquiry into the issue.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison reflected on his release during an ecumenical church service marking the opening of parliament for the year.

"I just give thanks in this place to the answer of so many prayers, by so many Australians, that Hakeem al-Araibi is coming home," he said.

Australian Associated Press