'Welcome home': Hakeem Al-Araibi lands in Australia

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Refugee footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi has arrived home in Melbourne where he received a hero's welcome from family, friends and supporters.

Refugee footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi touched down in Melbourne on Tuesday after spending more than two months in a Bangkok prison.

Dozens of supporters were at Tullamarine Airport to meet him, holding signs and banners.

"I would like to say thanks to Australia. It's amazing to see all of the people here," Mr Al-Araibi told the crowd.

"This is my country ... I love Australia," he said.

An emotional Craig Foster, who had tirelessly campaigned for Mr Al-Araibi's cause, said "I'm very proud of Australia".

"What's occurred over the last almost three months, to fight incredibly hard for not just a young player who virtually no-one knew, but a refugee who was under our protection ... speaks volumes about the character, the values and the pride that we have as Australians."

On Monday, the Thai attorney-general's office confirmed the extradition case against Mr Al-Araibi had been dropped and he would be free to return to Australia.

Footballer Hakeem al-Araibi
Craig Foster and Hakeem al-Araibi are seen upon al-Araibi's arrival at Melbourne Airport
Getty Images

However, Bahrain's foreign ministry said the government will be maintaining the criminal conviction against him and the possibility of pursuing further legal action. 

Mr Al-Araibi boarded a Bangkok flight on Monday night, arriving in Melbourne just after 1pm. 

On Monday, the Thai attorney-general's office confirmed the extradition case against Mr Al-Araibi had been dropped and he would be free to return to Australia.

Hakeem al-Araibi
Former Australian football captain Craig Foster (L) introduces footballer Hakeem al-Araibi (C) to the media
AFP

However, Bahrain's foreign ministry said the government will be maintaining the criminal conviction against him and the possibility of pursuing further legal action. 

Mr Al-Araibi boarded a Bangkok flight on Monday night, arriving in Melbourne just after 1pm. 

Hakeem al-Araibi
Craig Foster and Hakeem al-Araibi are seen upon al-Araibi's arrival at Melbourne Airport
Getty Images

He was wanted by Bahrain after fleeing the country when he was charged with vandalising a police station in 2012. He denies the charge.

The Thai Foreign Ministry later refused to give details of why Bahrain asked for the case to be dropped. However, Bahrain state media reported on Sunday that Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa spoke on the phone with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. 

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said Australia's federal police will look at how Bahrain was tipped off that refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi was travelling to Thailand ahead of his trip.

Source SBS World News