Jakarta: Refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi will be freed from his Thai jail cell and allowed to return home to Australia.
The shock move to release Araibi, rather than extradite him to the country of his birth, Bahrain, is a major surprise and one that will delight the thousands of people who have supported his quest for freedom.
Araibi's lawyer, Nadthasiri Bergman, confirmed that Araibi would be released.
He is due to be released immediately and is expected to fly home on Monday evening.
Araibi was due to return to court on April 22 but the Thai attorney-general's office confirmed Bahrain had requested that the case be dropped.
Director of the department's international affairs section, Chatchom Akapin, said the extradition case against Araibi was dropped by the Criminal Court on Monday afternoon.
Chatchom told BBC Thai they were informed by the Foreign Ministry that Bahrain wanted to drop the case, but he did not know the reason why.
The release comes a day after Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai met with Bahrain's Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, in Bahrain's capital of Manama on Sunday.
Araibi was detained by Thai authorities on November 27 when he arrived in Bangkok for a one-week honeymoon with his wife.
An Interpol red notice had been issued for Araibi's detention by Bahrain, but the notice should never have been issued as refugees cannot be returned to the country from which they have fled.
Bahrain had sought his extradition because it claims he was involved in vandalising a police station in 2012. He was convicted in absentia of the crime, but has always maintained his innocence and pointed out he was playing in a football match that was broadcast live on Bahrain TV until about 30 minutes before the incident.
Araibi fled to Australia in 2014, was granted refugee status in 2017 and plays for Pascoe Vale FC in Melbourne.
He has spoken movingly about his love for Australia and his fear of being returned to Bahrain, where he has said he could be tortured.
In a press conference late on Monday evening, Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that "as a result of the decision of the Thai government not to pursue the extradition case that is before it, Hakeem Al-Araibi has left the jail, he is on his way to the airport".
"The next step is for him to return home... people aren't home until they're home. But what we would like to do is show our appreciation for the Thai government," he said.
"We greatly respect the process they have had to work through... we thank them for the way they have engaged with us on this matter for some time."
Mr Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne heaped praise on former Socceroos' captain Craig Foster, Australians of the year Richard Harris and Craig Challen, Australian embassy staff in Bangkok and the thousands of Australians who had rallied and campaigned for al-Araibi.
Mr Foster, who has helped lead the campaign for Araibi's freedom, said on Twitter: "My thanks go to the wonderful people of Thailand for your support and to Thai Govt for upholding international law. My deepest gratitude. Also to everyone who stood for what’s right".
Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network program coordinator Evan Jones, who has regularly visited Araibi in jail, said news of the release was fantastic.
"We welcome Hakeem’s release, he should never have been detained. We are thrilled he can return to Australia," he said.
Fatima Yazbek, the spokeswoman for the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights and another supporter of Araibi's, said "this means humanity has won, Hakeem is innocent, he didn’t do anything and the fight to get him home safe is successful".
"We thank everyone involved in this fight, all the Australian community, thank you all for your support," she said.
Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, the director of advocacy of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, said Araibi's release was a "huge victory for the human rights movement in Bahrain, Thailand and Australia, and even the whole world".
"Hakeem’s ordeal ended after 70 days when there was a clear public stance and solidarity movement. The football community, the human rights movement and all of those who dedicated their time and efforts to end this injustice were rewarded. Let’s continue the fight to release all political prisoners who languish in Bahrain’s prisons."