A prominent Al-Jazeera journalist who was detained in Berlin spent the night in German custody while prosecutors hold meetings to decide whether he will be extradited or set free. Dozens of protesters, meanwhile, called for his release on Sunday.
Ahmed Mansour, 52, a senior journalist with the Qatar-based broadcaster’s Arabic service, was detained at Tegel airport on Saturday on an Egyptian arrest warrant, Al-Jazeera said. Mansour, who holds dual Egyptian-British nationality, was trying to board a Qatar Airways flight heading to Doha, the station reported.
Mansour’s detention is the latest in a long series of legal entanglements between Egypt and its satellite news channels. The station said he previously had been sentenced in absentia in Egypt to 15 years in prison over allegedly torturing an unnamed lawyer in Tahrir Square in 2011, a charge both he and the channel rejected.
“During the course of the day there will be several meetings and of course there can be at any time also a decision to set him free again,” said Martin Steltner, a spokesman for the Berlin prosecutor’s office.
Steltner added, however, that it would be very unlikely there would be a decision on a possible extradition of Mansour as early as Sunday.
A post on Mansour’s Facebook page called for a “Freedom for Mansour Ahmed” protest outside the Berlin courthouse where he is being held. A video of Mansour was also posted to the Facebook page, after he was questioned, and he lashes out at German authorities for detaining him.
“Regrettably, they told me that the request to arrest me is a German request and it is not based on Interpol,” he said, accusing Germany of complicity with President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s government in Egypt and speculating that there may be a special arrangement concerning him alone.
It wasn’t immediately clear who was posting to Mansour’s Facebook account, or who made the video.
Mansour, who is known for his “Without Borders” program, recently conducted an interview with the head of the Nusra Front, the al-Qaida branch fighting in Syria’s civil war, which was aired last month from an undisclosed location in Syria.
About 80 protesters gathered outside the courthouse where Mansour is being held, calling on authorities to set him free.
“We don’t understand why Mansour was detained in Berlin,” said Ali Alawady, a member of the German-Egyptian Union for Democracy who helped organize the protest, “He is an innocent journalist who is unrightfully persecuted in Egypt.”