Al Jazeera demands release of reporter held in Germany

Ahmed Mansour from Al Jazeera’s Arabic channel arrested at Berlin airport at the request of Egyptian authorities.

Al Jazeera has urged Germany to immediately release its journalist Ahmed Mansour, who was detained at a Berlin airport at the request of the Egyptian authorities.

Mansour, a senior Al Jazeera Arabic TV journalist, was arrested at Berlin’s Tegel airport at 13:20 GMT on Saturday as he tried to board a Qatar Airways flight from Berlin to Doha.

The crackdown on journalists by Egyptian authorities is well known. Our network, as the Arab world's most-watched, has taken the brunt of this. Other countries must not allow themselves to be tools of this media oppression, least of all those that respect freedom of the media as does Germany.

by Mostefa Souag, Acting Director General of Al Jazeera Media Network

“The crackdown on journalists by Egyptian authorities is well known,” said Mostefa Souag, acting director general of Al Jazeera network.

“Our network, as the Arab world’s most-watched, has taken the brunt of this. Other countries must not allow themselves to be tools of this media oppression, least of all those that respect freedom of the media as does Germany.

“Ahmed Mansour is one of the Arab world’s most respected journalists and must be released immediately.”

The temporary detention investigative judge concluded his investigation with Mansour on Sunday, after which he was transferred to Moabit prison in Berlin.

Mansour told Al Jazeera by telephone earlier that he would remain in custody until Monday. 

Al Jazeera’s Paul Brennan, reporting from Berlin, said Mansour will go before the attorney general on Monday morning.

“The attorney general will look in more detail at the actual allegation and we hope make a formal decision on whether or not Mansour’s detention can be justified,” he said.

“It is entirely possible he could be freed tomorrow.”

Mansour was sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison by Cairo’s criminal court in 2014 on the charge of torturing a lawyer in Tahrir Square in 2011.

He denied the charges. And in October last year, Interpol rejected Egypt’s request for an international arrest warrant against him.

Al Jazeera dismissed the accusation as a flimsy attempt at character assassination against of one of its leading journalists.

The arrest of Mansour comes two weeks after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi visited Germany.

Sisi has largely suppressed dissent in Egypt.

Politically motivated

Thousands of activists and political opponents have been arrested, prosecuted and in some cases sentenced to death since former President Mohamed Morsi was deposed two years ago.

Mansour’s lawyer, Saad Djebbar, told Al Jazeera that his client’s arrest was politically motivated.

“This is a ploy to terrorise Al Jazeera journalists and paralyse Al Jazeera from doing its work,” he said.

 Mansour’s lawyer explains detention in Germany

Three Al Jazeera English journalists were wrongly accused of colluding with the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Peter Greste was deported in February after 400 days in detention, while two of his colleagues, Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy, face a retrial.

Later on Sunday, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on Cairo to stop pursuing Al Jazeera journalists.

“”Egypt has launched a politically motivated campaign against Al Jazeera and is now abusing the international system,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa programme coordinator.

“Egyptian authorities should stop pursuing Ahmed Mansour and his Al Jazeera colleagues. Mansour should be released immediately.”

From Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Mansour

I am now in detention in Berlin airport in Germany as I was heading back to Doha.

The airport authorities detained me based on an Interpol order at the request of the Egyptian authorities.

I informed [ the police] that the global police organisation has rejected Egypt’s request and that I have this document from the Interpol to prove that I am not wanted in any charge. 

Ahmed Mansour [Al Jazeera] 
Ahmed Mansour [Al Jazeera] 

I also told them that all the cases that were filed against me in Egypt were fabricated.

They, however, insisted on holding me in their detention centre for investigation.

They told me that they will transfer me to face an investigating judge, who will determine my case. 

I refused to sign the detention request until I speak to my lawyer who just got here.

We hope that this misunderstanding will be resolved quickly.

It is quite ludicrous that a country like Germany would enforce and support such a request made by a dictatorial regime like the one we have in Egypt.

The Interpol itself cleared my name with this document that I have in my hands.

Source: Al Jazeera