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A Thai court ruled Tuesday that a soccer player who holds refugee status in Australia can be held for 60 days pending the completion of an extradition request by Bahrain, the homeland he fled four years ago on account of alleged political persecution and torture.

Hakeem al-Araibi, who was detained Nov. 27 upon entry at Bangkok's main airport, was denied release on bail during his court appearance. Thai officials said he was originally held on the basis of a notice from Interpol in which Bahrain sought his custody because he had been sentenced in absentia in 2014 to 10 years in prison for vandalizing a police station, a charge he denies. He came to Thailand on vacation with his wife.

Al-Araibi says he fears being tortured if sent to Bahrain. Australia, which granted him refugee status and residency in 2017, has called for his release and immediate return to his adoptive home. He had played for Bahrain's national soccer team and now plays for Melbourne's Pascoe Vale Football Club. He has been publicly critical of the Bahrain royal family's alleged involvement in sports scandals.

He also has alleged he was blindfolded and had his legs beaten while he was held in Bahrain in 2012.

He said he believed he was targeted for arrest because of his Shiite faith and because his brother was politically active in Bahrain. Bahrain has a Shiite majority but is ruled by a Sunni monarchy, and has a reputation for harsh repression since its failed "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011.

Thai officials insist they are following the letter of the law in holding him, but rights groups suggest he should not have been detained because of his refugee status, and that international law to which Thailand is a party bars sending him to Bahrain if he has a legitimate fear of persecution and even torture. The court can extend the 60-day detention by another 30 days on application of the prosecutor's office, but otherwise he is free to go if Bahrain does not finish its extradition application by then.


A Palestinian court on Thursday extended the detention of a hunger-striking Palestinian-American activist who claims she was tortured in captivity.

Suha Jbara, 31, a U.S. citizen born in Panama, shuffled into the Jericho courtroom with her head down, appearing ashen and weak. Her father and son reached out to embrace her but were restrained by Palestinian authorities.

The court ordered that Jbara remain in custody 15 more days on suspicions she funded "illegal organizations" and "worked with the enemy." Palestinian authorities refused to elaborate on the accusations. Jbara insists the only organizations she supports are Islamic charities advocating for Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

When the judge announced her extended detention, her youngest son, Mohammed, erupted into sobs and her father shook his fist, wailing, "Shame on you! I swear this is not justice!" as security officials ushered him out of the courtroom.

Jbara started a hunger strike two weeks ago to protest what she says is unjust treatment by Palestinian authorities. She told her lawyer on Thursday that she will continue striking for her remaining days of detention in hopes of bringing attention to her plight.

She told the advocacy organization Amnesty International that after arresting her from her home in a midnight raid, Palestinian authorities tortured her and deprived her of water, sleep and medicine she needs for a heart condition. She said security officials threatened her with sexual violence and forced her to sign a document admitting to charges she says are false.

Her father, Badran Jbara, said Jbara lived for nearly a decade with her American husband in New Jersey, where she obtained U.S. citizenship and raised her three children. Now divorced, she lives with her family in the West Bank city of Turmas Aya, known for its large population of Palestinian-Americans.



An Indian court on Wednesday ruled that officials may hold a British man while they investigate him for alleged bribery in a canceled $670 million helicopter deal between India and an Italian defense company.

Judge Arvind Kumar allowed Briton Christian James Michel to meet briefly with his attorney, who sought unsuccessfully to have him released on bail while the charges are investigated. Michel was extradited to India from Dubai on Tuesday to face charges of channeling bribes to Indian contacts.

Michel was detained in Dubai last year after India asked the United Arab Emirates for his extradition.

Indian investigators said in court documents that Michel transferred the money from a British subsidiary of Finmeccanica, which has since been renamed Leonardo S.p.A.

In 2014, India received three of 12 AW101 helicopters it had ordered to fly senior officials but then halted the deal after the bribery allegations surfaced.

The Central Bureau of Investigation said Michel was a frequent visitor to India when the deal was being negotiated and "was operating as a middleman for defense procurements through a wide network of sources cultivated in the Indian Air Force and Ministry of Defense at different levels, including retired and serving officials."

Indian investigators want Michel to reveal the names of Indian politicians involved in the alleged scheme. The opposition Congress party was ruling the country at the time.

With national elections due in March-April, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist party is expected to try to embarrass the Congress party, its main rival, if Michel names some of its leaders as beneficiaries in the helicopter deal.

India is upgrading its military and has become the world's biggest arms and defense equipment buyer in recent years. Arms deals have often been marred by allegations that foreign companies paid huge kickbacks to Indian officials.


A Sri Lankan court on Monday ordered disputed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his ministers to refrain from carrying out their duties as it hears an appeal against them.

While the ruling by the Court of Appeal is an interim order, it is yet another setback for Rajapaksa, who has held on to the position of prime minister with President Maithripala Sirisena's backing despite losing two no-confidence votes.

The parliamentary speaker announced that Rajapaksa's government was dissolved after the passage of the no-confidence motions. Parliament has also passed resolutions to cut off funds to the offices of Rajapaksa and his ministers.

Still, Rajapaksa continued to function as prime minister, with Sirisena dismissing the no-confidence votes, saying proper procedures were not followed.

Rajapaksa said in a statement later Monday that he did not accept the interim order and would file an appeal early Tuesday with the Supreme Court, the country's highest court.

Sri Lanka has been in political turmoil since Oct. 26, when Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and appointed Rajapaksa in his place.


A Chinese court has reduced the prison sentence for former college football player and American citizen Wendell Brown from four years to three for his involvement in a bar fight, a rights monitoring group said Wednesday.

Brown, a native of Detroit who played for Ball State University in Indiana, had been teaching English and American football in southwest China when he was arrested in September 2016 and charged with intentional assault. He denied hitting a man at a bar and said he was defending himself after being attacked.

The San Francisco-based Dui Hua Foundation said Brown will be transferred from a detention center to a prison in the southwestern city of Chongqing, from where he can then apply for early release. He is now due to be set free on Sept. 24, 2019.

The court issued no official statement and an assistant judge in the case, reached by phone, directed inquiries to the court's management office, which did not immediately respond to faxed questions seeking comment.

Brown, 31, was convicted on June 28 and his reduction in sentence is one of an estimated 15 percent of appeals that are successful in China, Dui Hua said. Friends, family and supporters had hoped he would be immediately deported, as is allowed under Chinese law.

"While this is not the result we hoped for it is nevertheless the best that could be achieved," the group's executive director, John Kamm, said in an emailed statement.

"I salute the team of legal advisers and friends who have worked tirelessly to bring Wendell home. Dui Hua acknowledges the sympathetic handling of the case by the appellate judges in Chongqing," Kamm said.

Michigan and U.S. officials have lobbied China on Brown's behalf and hundreds of people have donated to a GoFundMe account to help in his case, Dui Hua said.

Brown was the only person prosecuted over the Sept. 25, 2016, incident in a Chongqing bar, which the court concluded Brown had not initiated, Dui Hua said. Witnesses said Brown was being harassed by other patrons. However, the court ruled that he "didn't do enough to de-escalate the situation," the group said.

The sentence reduction was based on apologies and expressions of forgiveness between Brown and others involved and Brown's payment of 200,000 yuan ($28,750) in compensation, Dui Hua said.

Brown was also allowed to make a 15-minute video call to his mother, Antoinette, in Detroit. "He was in characteristic good spirits and appeared healthy," Dui Hua reported.

Brown was a linebacker at Ball State in Muncie, Indiana, and later played for the Canadian Football League's Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Swarco Raiders in Austria. At the time of his arrest, he was in China helping coach the Chongqing Dockers, part of an amateur league seeking to establish American football in China. He is the father of an 11-year-old boy.


Court ruled Wednesday that bobsledder Alexander Zubkov, who carried the Russian flag at the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Games, should still be considered an Olympic champion despite having been stripped of his medals because of doping. A CAS ruling upholding his disqualification is not enforceable in Russia, the court said.

CAS, however, is the only valid arbiter for sports disputes at the games, according to the Olympic Charter. In rare instances, Switzerland's supreme court can weigh in on matters of procedure.

"The CAS decision in this case is enforceable since there was no appeal filed with the Swiss Federal Tribunal within the period stipulated," the IOC told The Associated Press in an email on Thursday. "The IOC will soon request the medals to be returned."

The law firm representing Zubkov said the Moscow court found the CAS ruling violated Zubkov's "constitutional rights" by placing too much of a burden on him to disprove the allegations against him.

Zubkov won the two-man and four-man bobsled events at the Sochi Olympics but he was disqualified by the IOC last year. The verdict was later upheld by CAS.

Zubkov and his teams remain disqualified in official Olympic results, but the Moscow ruling could make it harder for the IOC to get his medals back.


The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday called on Turkey to release the former head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition from detention. Turkey's president responded by claiming his country was not bound by the court's rulings.

In its ruling on Tuesday, the Strasbourg, France-based court said Turkey had violated Selahattin Demirtas' right to be promptly brought before a judge, his right to a speedy review of his case as well as his right to be elected and to sit in Parliament.

Demirtas, the 45-year-old former co-chairman of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, was arrested in November 2016 on terrorism charges. He ran in Turkey's presidential election in June from his high-security prison in Edirne, northwest Turkey. He also campaigned for a constitutional referendum in 2017 from behind bars.

In September Demirtas was sentenced to four years in prison for supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, and engaging in terrorist propaganda in one of several trials against him. He is appealing his conviction.

Asked to comment on the European court's ruling, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: "We are not bound by the (European court's) decisions."

He added: "We'll make our counter-move and finish it off." He did not elaborate. As a signatory of a European convention to protect human rights, the court's decisions are legally binding on Turkey.


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