National

Hakeem in Canberra for PM handshake

By AAP Newswire

From Thai prison to prime ministerial meeting - it's been a big few days for refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi.

Just a day after touching down in Melbourne following his two-month detention in Bangkok, the 25-year-old flew to Canberra on Wednesday.

He's got a meeting with Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne on Thursday.

There are also plans for Mr al-Araibi to take part in a soccer match on the grounds of Parliament House along with former Socceroo and Matildas captains Craig Foster and Kate Gill.

Mr al-Araibi's case attracted global attention when he was arrested in Bangkok in late November.

He remained in custody pending extradition to his birth country Bahrain until it cancelled the demand.

In the federal upper house on Wednesday the Greens lost a bid for a parliamentary inquiry into Mr al-Araibi's detention.

Labor and the coalition blocked a motion which would have looked at the role of federal departments and Australian Federal Police in the former Bahraini national team player being locked up.

He now plays with semi-professional Melbourne club Pascoe Vale and can't wait to get back on the pitch.

But club chairman Lou Tona said Mr al-Araibi had been told to rest and return to training on Monday.

"He probably needs to spend time with his wife," Mr Tona told AAP, noting he'd miss the Premier League season opener on Thursday.

It is expected Mr al-Araibi will make his much-anticipated debut next week for the club's home clash with Bentleigh.

"We are really keen to have him back - it is the missing piece for us," Mr Tona said.

"We are not going to start him straight away, certainly other areas will need to be looked at - his ability and handling of the ball ... We will assess him.

"(But) the priority is his mental health."

On his return to Melbourne, Mr al-Araibi openly declared his love for Australia.

"I will be strong here, just for Australia. And Australia, this is my country," he said.

"I don't have citizenship yet but my country is Australia. I will die in Australia and I love Australia. Thank you very much."

Mr al-Araibi and his wife had been honeymooning in Bangkok when he was arrested.

He was wanted after fleeing Bahrain charged with vandalising a police station in 2012 and was then sentenced to 10 years jail in absentia.

Al-Araibi denies the crime.

The young man's detention attracted high-profile global attention, raised diplomatic tensions and generated repeated requests for his release from the Australian government, international human rights groups, sporting bodies and the public.