Philip Wilson, ex Australian Archbishop, has conviction for covering up child sex abuse overturned

The former Archbishop of Adelaide, Philip Wilson, who was found guilty in May of concealing the abuse of altar boys in the 1970s by pedophile priest James Fletcher, has successfully appealed his conviction. A court in New South Wales on Thursday ruled in favor of Wilson, saying there was reasonable doubt the clergyman had ever … Continue reading “Philip Wilson, ex Australian Archbishop, has conviction for covering up child sex abuse overturned”

The former Archbishop of Adelaide, Philip Wilson, who was found guilty in May of concealing the abuse of altar boys in the 1970s by pedophile priest James Fletcher, has successfully appealed his conviction.

A court in New South Wales on Thursday ruled in favor of Wilson, saying there was reasonable doubt the clergyman had ever committed the crime, according to a statement from New South Wales Courts.The 68-year-old Wilson had been the highest-ranking Catholic official ever to be convicted of covering up sex abuse. He avoided prison after a court earlier sentenced him to home detention under his sister’s custody.

    Wilson resigned his post in July, even as he continued efforts to appeal the original conviction.

    Historic cover-up

    Read MoreThe original guilty verdict against Wilson was seen as a pivotal moment with potentially far-reaching implications for other clergy members implicated in the child sex abuse scandal that’s engulfed the Catholic Church globally. Wilson was an assistant priest when Fletcher, a Catholic priest based in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, abused altar boys in the mid-1970s.Prosecutors had argued the Archbishop failed to report the abuse to authorities, allowing Fletcher to remain in the clergy and abuse other children.Wilson and Fletcher went their separate ways after 1976. Wilson then begin his climb through the church’s hierarchy, an assent which took him to the role of Archbishop of Adelaide in 2001.Fletcher was never charged with any offending relating to his behavior in 1976. However, in 2004, Fletcher was convicted of eight counts of child abuse and later sentenced to 10 years in prison. The eight charges were committed between 1989 and 1991. Fletcher died in prison in 2006. Wilson was charged in 2015, accused of failing to report Fletcher’s abuse to police.

    Ongoing scandal

    The case comes as Australia is still grappling with historic accusations of child sex abuse in the country’s Catholic Church, which has been subject to numerous investigations including a Royal Commission. There was anger among many survivors in August when the Church rejected calls for priests to be compelled to report child abuse revealed in confessionals.

      The Church said it would accept “98%” of recommendations made by a high-level government inquiry into child sexual abuse, which uncovered shocking accounts of widespread abuse inside Australian religious institutions.But church leaders said that they would maintain the sanctity of confession, arguing to remove it would infringe on religious liberties.

‘Teacher’s Pet’ podcast subject, who moved in with student when wife vanished, accused of wife’s 1982 murder

An Australian man who was the subject of the popular “Teacher’s Pet” podcast — which garnered global attention as it focused on the 1982 disappearance of his wife — was arrested Wednesday and is expected to be charged with her murder, police said.

Chris Dawson, 70, was arrested at a Queensland home and is accused of killing his wife, Lynette Dawson, who vanished from her home in Sydney in January 1982. The body of Lyn, then 33 and a mother of two, has never been found.

“A team of dedicated detectives has been investigating this case over the past three years,” Det. Supt. Scott Cook, the head of New South Wales homicide squad, said in a news release Wednesday.

The disappearance was the focus of “The Teacher’s Pet,” which was created by journalists from The Australian newspaper, the Telegraph reported. The journalists investigated the unsolved case and revealed details about Chris and Lyn Dawson’s relationship before she went missing. It was also critical of how police investigated the case.

Chris, a former rugby league player and high school teacher, was having an affair with a 16-year-old student when his wife disappeared, a 2003 inquest revealed. The teenage girl moved in with Chris days after Lyn was reported missing.

Chris and the student later married, but are now reportedly separated. Meanwhile, Chris continued to deny he was involved in the disappearance and likely death of his wife.

NSW police said homicide detectives began looking into Lyn’s disappearance again in 2015.

In recent years, the student and another schoolgirl became two key witnesses in working to solve the cold case, news.com.au reported.

Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @bykatherinelam

Australian archbishop cleared of child sex abuse cover-up

NEWCASTLE, Australia – An Australian appeal court on Thursday overturned a conviction against the most senior Roman Catholic cleric ever found guilty of covering up child sex abuse.

New South Wales state District Court Judge Roy Ellis upheld former Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson's appeal against his May conviction in a lower court for concealing the sexual abuse of two altar boys by a pedophile priest in the 1970s. Ellis found there was reasonable doubt that the 68-year-old cleric had committed the crime, which is punishable by up to two years in prison.

Wilson has served almost four months of a year-long home detention sentence at his sister's house outside Newcastle. He was to become eligible for parole after serving six months.

The judge also dismissed a prosecution appeal against the leniency of the sentence.

Wilson was allowed to watch the decision via a video link from a remote location so he could avoid media cameras at the Newcastle court.

Wilson has always maintained his innocence and after his conviction had initially refused calls for his resignation until he had exhausted his appeal options. But he quit in July after then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called on the Vatican to act.

Administrator Delegate of the Adelaide Archdiocese, Philip Marshall — Wilson's replacement — said the church noted the judgment and welcomed the conclusion of a process that had been long and painful for all concerned.

"We now need to consider the ramifications of this outcome," Marshall said in a statement.

"The survivors of child sexual abuse and their families are in our thoughts and prayers, and the archdiocese remains committed to providing the safest possible environments for children and vulnerable people in our care," he added.

The prosecution said that Wilson was told by two altar boys in 1976 that they had been abused by pedophile priest James Fletcher but did nothing about it. It was alleged he subsequently failed to go to the police after Fletcher was arrested in 2004 for abusing another boy.

One of the two altar boy victims, Peter Creigh, was in tears after the judge's decision. He was too upset to comment outside court. Creigh has previously agreed to be identified in the media as a victim of child sex abuse.

Another of Fletcher's victims who was not involved in the charge against Wilson, Peter Gogarty, said the Catholic Church had shown no genuine contrition for the abuse of children by clerics.

"I'm very disappointed as you'd expect. I'm disappointed at a personal level … but more importantly, I'm very disappointed for the other people, good, honest, reliable people," Gogarty told reporters outside court, referring to witnesses in the trial.

Newcastle Magistrate Robert Stone "found them all very credible and very honest and those people have stood up to the might and the money of the Catholic Church and they've been deeply hurt by this decision. So, I feel terribly for them," Gogarty added.

In May, Stone rejected the evidence of Wilson, who is suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, that he could not remember the altar boys telling him of the abuse.

Fletcher was convicted in 2004 of sexually abusing another boy and died of a stroke in prison in 2006.

The defense lawyers had argued Wilson was not guilty because the evidence was circumstantial and there was no evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the clergyman was told about the abuse, believed it was true or remembered being told about it.

During Wilson's two-day appeal last week, prosecutor Helen Roberts urged Ellis to consider how the magistrate had the benefit of watching both Wilson and Creigh — the main witness — during the trial. The magistrate had raised doubts about the cleric's credibility before finding him guilty.

Stone found Creigh had been a genuine and truthful witness who had no motive to make up the conversation he said he had with Wilson in 1976.

But Ellis repeatedly stated during the appeal that Wilson was an intelligent, articulate man who appeared to be doing his best to answer questions put to him during the trial.

Ellis said he was not bound by the magistrate's conclusion that many of Wilson's answers were "dissembling and contrived."

When sentencing Wilson to home detention, Stone said the cleric had shown no remorse or contrition for the cover-up and his primary motive had been to protect the Catholic Church.

Australian women walk out of work early, protesting gender pay gap

A small but poignant protest was held in Sydney Wednesday in which women — and some men — left work early to demand pay equality, echoing similar protests around the world this year.

The protest, organized by a network of women under the campaign #WalkOutOz, saw about 100 people in Sydney leave their places of work at 3:50 p.m., the time organizers say is when women technically stop getting paid for their work every day, compared with men.”We’re supposed to be a country that believes in giving everyone a fair go,” said Fi Bendall, CEO of The Female Social Network and #WalkOutOz spokesperson, told CNN in an interview. “It’s about changing the way people think and understanding that all we are asking for is fairness. This is about us all walking together because this is the right thing for society.”

    Discrimination based on gender is already illegal in many countries, but research shows the legislation is far from effective. Women are paid less than men in every country in the world, according to research by the World Economic Forum.Australian women earn on average about 84 cents for every dollar that men earn, according to government figures. That means men working full-time earn nearly 27,000 Australian dollars ($21,000) a year more on average than full-time women employees, according to Australia’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency. .m-infographic–1543999249087 { background: url(//cdn.cnn.com/cnn/.e/interactive/html5-video-media/2018/12/05/20181205_gender_pay_gap_gfx_smallx2.png) no-repeat 0 0 transparent; margin-bottom: 30px; padding-top: 193.33333333333334%; width: 100%; -moz-background-size: cover; -o-background-size: cover; -webkit-background-size: cover; background-size: cover; } @media (min-width: 640px) { .m-infographic–1543999249087{ background-image: url(//cdn.cnn.com/cnn/.e/interactive/html5-video-media/2018/12/05/20181205_gender_pay_gap_gfx_large.png); padding-top: 56.236559139784944%; } } @media (min-width: 1120px) { .m-infographic–1543999249087{ background-image: url(//cdn.cnn.com/cnn/.e/interactive/html5-video-media/2018/12/05/20181205_gender_pay_gap_gfx_large.png); padding-top: 56.236559139784944%; } } <!– Read More

    Driving momentum

    The Sydney gathering follows a year of protests around the world, with women rallying against discriminatory pay and sexual harassment. Last month, Google employees staged a walkout over what they say is a workplace culture that turned a blind eye to sexual harassment and discrimination. In October, Iceland’s prime minister, Katrin Jakobsdottir, joined demonstrators who left work early over pay inequality and sexual harassment. That walkout was one of several that women in the Nordic nation have staged since 1975, and the marches have historically led to real policy change. Most recently, in January Iceland passed a law requiring workplaces to prove that they pay men and women in the same jobs equally. The hidden costs of commuting while femaleBendall, whose company The Female Social Network brings together around 15 million women globally, said protests like those in Iceland are important for driving momentum that could bring about change across the board.”You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. What the Icelandic women have achieved is a significant step in the right direction that Australian women and men can learn from,” she said. “We’re not asking for anything amazing, that’s what so ridiculous about it.”This year has seen some positive developments in efforts to eliminate pay disparities. Legislation introduced in the UK required companies with 250 or more employees to disclose their gender pay gaps — for average pay, median pay and annual bonuses. Other European countries have also implemented laws seeking to hold companies to account over the pay gap. A similar proposed law in the US was stayed by the Trump administration in August 2017, arguing it was too burdensome to require companies to collect the data. Women in the US earn about 80% of what their male counterparts make, according to government figures. Why women have to work harder to be promotedThose extra cents add up and affect women across their career and lifespan. According to 2016 figures from the US National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS), women have substantially less income in retirement than men. And retired women are 80% more likely to be impoverished.

    Breaking the cycle

    In Australia, the workforce is highly segregated by gender, according to the Australian Human Rights Commission, and women are “over-represented as part-time workers in low-paid industries,” are more likely to have insecure work and “continue to be underrepresented in leadership roles.” On average, women bear the brunt of caring for children and older or sick relatives, spending 64% of their working week doing unpaid care.Bendell said that enacting workplace policies can only go so far, and real change will come from changing attitudes.Women in Australia will need to work really hard to break what Bendell calls the “old boys club.” “It won’t change for me but it can change for my daughter,” she said.Despite the small turnout in Sydney, the protest was indicative of a growing sense in Australia that women are increasingly — and publicly — challenging sexism and discrimination. Why men need to believe in the wage gapA video of Australian Senator Sarah Hanson-Young went viral last week after she made a powerful speech calling out men in parliament for using sexist slurs. Declaring “you’re not fit to call yourself men,” she named those who had made inappropriate comments.Earlier this year, Hanson-Young began legal proceedings against fellow Senator David Leyonhjelm over comments he made on the parliament floor that she “should stop shagging men.”

      “Real men don’t insult and threaten women,” she said. “Real men don’t slut-shame them.””I think Australian women are definitely are speaking out,” said Bendall. “What we’ve seen in the last year in our political environment has made a huge statement to the world that Australian women in politics are fed up of being the minority.”

Chris Dawson, subject of Teacher’s Pet podcast, arrested 36 years after wife’s alleged murder

Police in Australia appear to be closer than ever to solving a murder mystery that started with the sudden disappearance of a 33-year-old mother almost four decades ago and led Wednesday to the arrest of her former husband.

Chris Dawson was arrested Wednesday over the murder of his former wife Lynette Dawson, the latest twist in a case documented in the wildly popular Australian true crime podcast “Teacher’s Pet.”The podcast alleges Chris Dawson, a former professional rugby player turned high school teacher, was having an affair with one of his 16-year-old students, who was also the family’s babysitter, when his wife vanished from the Sydney neighborhood of Bayview in January 1982.

    Dawson, now 70 years old, has long denied any involvement in his wife’s disappearance, despite two coronial inquests that concluded he killed her, according to CNN affiliate Nine News. Dawson, who played for Newtown Jets rugby league team in the early 1970s, appeared in a Queensland court following his arrest Wednesday. Bail was denied and a request to extradite him to the neighboring state of New South Wales was approved.Read MoreDawson’s arrest comes months after new evidence, including witness statements, was presented to prosecutors in April, which helped investigators “tie pieces of the puzzle together,” New South Wales Police Commissioner Mick Fuller told reporters Wednesday.Fuller expressed confidence in the strength of the new evidence, which he said included witness statements, despite the fact that police have never recovered Lynette Dawson’s body. “We’ve solved homicides before without identifying the body,” Fuller said.Police search the former Dawson home in April.Police searched the Dawson’s former Sydney home in September, but did not find Lynette’s remains or any “items of interest to the investigation.” “We would ideally liked to have found the body of Lynette Dawson, not just for the brief of evidence but also for the family. And we certainly won’t give up on that search.” Fuller said authorities spoke to the family of Lynette Dawson and informed them of the arrest. He said family was “relieved.”

      Dawson’s brother, Greg Simms, told Nine News he was emotional upon hearing the news, crying and embracing his family. “We’ve always been determined to find the truth and that’s the reason why we’ve fought to keep Lyn’s name alive and out there with all the different media,” he said.

Brother of Australian cricket star Usman Khawaja arrested by counter terrorism police

The brother of Australian cricket star Usman Khawaja has been arrested by counter-terrorism investigators over an alleged faked terrorism plot.

Arsalan Khawaja has been charged with forgery and attempting to pervert justice relating to the discovery of a notebook containing alleged concocted plans to carry out terror attacks in Australia.

The 39-year-old, who was arrested in Parramatta, west of Sydney, Tuesday, was allegedly motivated by a jealous dispute with a colleague over a woman, authorities said.

His brother broke his silence on Tuesday afternoon, issuing a statement asking for his family’s privacy to be respected.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE FROM NEWS.COM.AU

“I won’t be saying much guys. It is a matter for police to deal with. Out of respect for the process it’d be inappropriate for me to make any further comment. I just ask you to please respect my privacy and my family’s privacy during this time.”

Investigators swung into action on August 30 after a handwritten book was found at the University of New South Wales, outlining alleged plans for a series of attacks.

The fake targets allegedly included Australia's former foreign minister Julie Bishop, former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and several major landmarks, including the Sydney Opera House.

The alarming find led to the wrongful arrest of Mohamed Nizamdeen, a PhD student and casual IT support employee at the university’s campus in Sydney.

NEW WHITE HOUSE COUNTERTERRORISM STRATEGY SINGLES OUT 'RADICAL ISLAMISTS'

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Investigators sensationally dropped the charge and the 26-year-old was cleared of any wrongdoing, but not before spending four weeks detained at the notorious maximum security Goulburn prison.

Mr Nizamdeen is now suing police. Authorities confirmed they had paid his legal costs but would not comment on any further possible compensation.

“We regret the circumstances which led to him being charged and the time he subsequently spent in custody,” Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing told a press conference.

“We feel very sorry for him and what happened to him.”

An investigation by the Joint Counter Terrorism Team concluded that Khawaja allegedly produced the fake “extremist and threatening” material in a bid to frame Mr Nizamdeen.

“We believe (he was) set up in a planned and calculated matter … motivated in part by personal grievances,” Mr Willing said.

There was no evidence to suggest any “ongoing threat to the community”, he said.

In October, counter-terrorism police questioned Khawaja, who was employed alongside Mr Nizamdeen, and later searched his Westmead home.

Today’s arrest follows an investigation by the Joint Counter Terrorism Team, dubbed Operation Moorsel.

The probe had taken up “an enormous amount of resources,” Mr Willing said.

This story originally appeared in news.com.au. For more from news.com.au, click here.

Australian school children defy prime minister with climate strike

Thousands of Australian children skipped school on Friday in defiance of the prime minister to protest for greater action on climate change.

Organizers estimated around 15,000 left their classrooms in 30 locations across the country, including Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, carrying signs reading “procrastinating is our job not yours” and “I’ve seen smarter Cabinets at Ikea”.Friday’s protests followed similar protests in Canberra and Hobart earlier this week.

    As the children prepared for three days of protest, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Parliament “what we want is more learning in schools and less activism.”

    This rally has the best signs of all time 😂 #ClimateStrike #auspol pic.twitter.com/OiadhbiXwf

    — Mehreen Faruqi (@MehreenFaruqi) November 30, 2018

    Two Central Victoria pupils, inspired by Greta Thunberg, a 15-year-old student in Sweden who staged her own climate strike outside the Swedish Parliament in September, started the “Strike 4 Climate Action.”Read MoreHarriet O’Shea Carre and Milou Albrecht, both 14, penned a call to arms asking fellow school children to join them in protest, stating: “Just going to school isn’t doing anything about climate change. And it doesn’t seem that our politicians are doing anything, or at least not enough, about climate change either.”On Thursday Thunberg tweeted her support for the Australian schoolchildren, “Time for bed in Sweden. But in Australia it’s already morning… I stand strong Australia. We are with you.”The Australian newspaper reported that environmental groups and parents supported the protests.”I wake every morning in a state that is 100% drought declared,” said 17-year-old Ruby Walker, a protesting pupil from the state of New South Wales. Thousands of students gathered a Martin Place in central Sydney armed with signs.”I have seen our government ax policies to protect my generation’s future. I have seen the failure to invest in solutions that would protect us and the failure to prevent and prepare for the climate crisis. Enough is enough,” she added in a statement from “School Strike 4 Climate.”Jean Hinchcliffe, a pupil who spoke at the Sydney rally said, “Scott Morrison said this should be dealt with outside of school, but it’s not being dealt with and that’s why we’re taking action.””Students are keen for more because the student revolution is well underway,” added the 14-year-old in a statement.On Friday, the resources minister Matt Canavan said he would prefer students to learn about mining and science rather than protest. “These are the type of things that excite young children and we should be great at it as a nation,” he told 2GB radio. “The best thing you’ll learn about going to a protest is how to join the dole queue.”The children are also protesting against the possibility that the Carmichael coal mine, a controversial development in Queensland, will gain the regulatory approvals for work to begin.

    This sign is everything #climatestrike pic.twitter.com/tVnsa6pUt9

    — Fadak Alfayadh (@AlFadak) November 30, 2018

    The proposed use of Australian taxpayer dollars had enraged opponents of the mine, who say it will be a “death sentence” for the Great Barrier Reef because of the high levels of carbon pollution that coal produces. Large parts of the reef have already been destroyed by rising ocean temperatures linked to global warming.Indian conglomerate the Adani Group announced Thursday that the project would be “100% financed” through its own resources, removing the need to rely on government funding.”We will now deliver the jobs and business opportunities we have promised for North Queensland and Central Queensland, all without requiring a cent of Australian taxpayer dollars,” the company said.

    Stop Adani chant – deafening pic.twitter.com/kBO194Elsa

    — Naaman Zhou (@naamanzhou) November 30, 2018

    On Friday thousands of school children in Sydney chanted “stop Adani, stop, stop Adani.”The students’ protest gained momentum this week with the release of several reports that warned of the severe consequences of climate change and the world’s collective failure to meet goals set by the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015.

      A US government report released last Friday warned that climate change could cost the US economic hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century. Another, compiled by researchers from 27 global institutions, predicted that heat waves could reduce food supplies and aid the spread of diseases such as dengue and cholera.

Thousands of Australian students protest climate change

SYDNEY – Thousands of schoolchildren across Australia skipped classes Friday to attend rallies demanding the government act on climate change.

But Resources Minister Matt Canavan said the students should be in school learning about science and mining, rather than discovering how to get on welfare.

The coordinated rallies Friday were held in close to 30 cities and towns and were inspired by a 15-year-old Swedish girl's activism.

In Sydney, more than 1,000 children, most in school uniforms, chanted slogans, while similar numbers blocked streets outside the Victoria state parliament in Melbourne.

The rallies were inspired by Greta Thunberg, who protests every Friday outside Sweden's parliament, demanding leaders do more about climate change.

Sydney student Siniva Esera said Australia needs to be the big brother to the low-lying Pacific islands, including her relatives on the Tokelau atolls.

"Our prime minister thinks we should be in school right now, and maybe we should," the Chifley College Senior Campus student told the Sydney protest. "But how can I just sit by and not do anything to protect the future of this planet, and as my family on the islands worry about the rising sea level?"

Forest Lodge Primary school captain Lucie Atkin Bolton said she'd learned in class that leaders need to look after everybody and take responsibility when things go wrong.

"I wish I lived in a country where our adults, especially our politicians, actually cared about my future," the 11-year-old said.

Canavan, the resources minister, said he's on the side of science and wants Australia to develop all energy sources, including solar and coal. He said he'd rather the kids learn about mining and science.

"These are the type of things that excite young children and we should be great at as a nation," he told Sydney radio station 2GB. "The best thing you'll learn about going to a protest is how to join the dole queue."

Wedding guests cover eyes in support of blind bride: ‘Everyone really loved it,’ she says

They say that love is blind. But nowhere was that more true than at a recent wedding in Queensland, Australia.

Many of the guests at the wedding of Steph Agnew, 32, and Robbie Campbell, 49, wore black blindfolds as a gesture of solidarity with Agnew, because the bride is blind.

“It was a joint idea about how we could be more tactile for me and how we could raise awareness about visual impairment,” Agnew told website Nine.com.au.

“Everyone really loved it, it was definitely a bit different for everyone,” she said.

Agnew has not been able to see for four years because of a genetic condition called Cone-Rod Dystrophy, in which the cells in one's retina slowly deteriorate, MamaMia.com.au reported.

Her mother Linda closed her eyes during the ceremony because she too lost her eyesight to the same condition, the report said.

"We wanted our guests to be able to really be present and hear our vows the same way my mum and I did, everyone loved it and gave such great feedback about how special the day was."

— Steph Agnew, bride

“We wanted our guests to be able to really be present and hear our vows the same way my mum and I did. Everyone loved it and gave such great feedback about how special the day was," she said, according to the report.

Agnew is a massage therapist from South Melbourne, while Campbell is a police officer, Nine.com.au reported.

Amy Lieu is a news editor and reporter for Fox News.

Australia raised detained refugee with Thai authorities

MELBOURNE, Australia – Australian officials have raised with Thai authorities the plight of an Australia-based refugee professional soccer player who was detained in Bangkok and fears deportation to his native Bahrain, Australia's foreign minister said Friday.

Rights groups are urging Thai authorities not to deport Hakeem Ali Mohamed Ali AlAraib to his homeland, where he faces imprisonment for what his supporters say are political reasons. AlAraib was detained at a Bangkok airport on Tuesday.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said AlAraib, 25, was accepted as a refugee and resettled in the Australian city of Melbourne last year, but is not an Australian citizen. Australia can demand consular access to its citizens detained overseas.

"He's not an Australian citizen … and he's also traveling on U.N. papers. So we have raised that matter. Our post in Thailand is aware of it and is following up on that," Payne told a reporter at a Sydney foreign policy think tank.

Payne did not directly respond when asked whether AlAraib is at risk of being deported to Bahrain.

Her department later said in a statement that Australian embassy officials in Bangkok were in direct contact with Thai authorities regarding AlAraib. The department would not make further comment due to privacy obligations.

The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy says AlAraib was tortured after a 2012 arrest and fled in 2014 to Australia, which granted him political asylum. 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 Bahrain's royal family's alleged involvement in sports scandals.

The London-based group says AlAraib was detained at the Bangkok airport on the basis of an Interpol notice issued at Bahrain's request that says he is sought because he was sentenced in absentia in 2014 to 10 years in prison for allegedly vandalizing a police station, a charge he denies. He says he was playing a match that was televised live when the alleged crime occurred, but when his family reached out to Bahrain's soccer association to confirm his alibi, their requests went unanswered.

Rights groups say the Interpol Red Notice — which is a request to locate and provisionally arrest an individual pending extradition — violates the international police organization's policy that such notices will not be issued "if the status of refugee or asylum-seeking has been confirmed."

No comment was immediately available from Thai officials.

Australia's SBS News said AlAraib told them on Thursday that he fears being returned to Bahrain.

"It's very dangerous there (for me). … In Bahrain, they want to kill me," he said. "I told (Thai Immigration) I (didn't) come from Bahrain, I have an Australian travel document … Bahrain is not my country now, I live in Australia."