A court in Germany is set to consider a request from Egypt to extradite Al Jazeera journalist Ahmed Mansour, who was detained at Berlin airport at the request of the Egyptian government.
Egypt asked Germany and Interpol on Sunday to extradite Mansour, but prosecutors have said they have not yet decided whether to send him to Egypt or set him free.
Al Jazeera’s Paul Brennan, reporting from Berlin, said the temporary detention investigative judge concluded his investigation with Mansour on Sunday, after which he was transferred to Moabit prison in Berlin.
The attorney general will arrive at his office on Monday and read the documents that were rubber-stamped over the weekend, Brennan said.
“At some point after that he will call Ahmed Mansour’s local lawyer to convene a formal hearing to look in substance at the allegations which the Egyptian authorities are levelling against Mansour,” he said, adding that it was not known whether the hearing would occur on Monday.
Dozens of supporters of Mansour protested in front of the Berlin court building where the journalist from Al Jazeera’s Arabic channel was being held.
Mansour’s lawyer, Fazli Altin, called for the journalist’s immediate release, saying that Germany was getting involved in a “politically tainted case”.
Responding to questions on Mansour arrest, a German foreign ministry spokesman, told Reuters news agency, that no one will be extradited from Germany if the defendant risks facing the death penalty.
Egypt has launched a politically motivated campaign against Al Jazeera and is now abusing the international system.
More than 25,000 people have signed a petition calling on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to release Mansour, one of the Arab world’s most respected journalists.
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, the 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.”
Mansour, 52, was detained at Berlin’s Tegel airport on Saturday on an Egyptian arrest warrant, his lawyers said. Mansour, who holds dual Egyptian-British citizenship, was trying to board a Qatar Airways flight to Doha.
Crackdown on journalists
The Al Jazeera journalist 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 one of its leading journalists.
“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.”
|Mansour’s lawyer explains detention in Germany|
The arrest of Mansour comes two weeks after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi visited Germany.
Sisi has largely suppressed dissent in Egypt.
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.
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 remain in Egypt facing a retrial.