Saturday,18 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1252, (25 June - 1 July 2015)
Saturday,18 August, 2018
Issue 1252, (25 June - 1 July 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Germany detains, then frees Al-Jazeera reporter

When Al-Jazeera journalist Ahmed Mansour attempted to board a flight from Berlin’s Tegel airport to Doha on Saturday he was prevented from doing so by German authorities

Ahmed Mansour
Ahmed Mansour
Al-Ahram Weekly

Mansour, a dual Egyptian-British citizen, was tried in absentia by an Egyptian court in 2014 and sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of rape and torture, allegedly committed in Tahrir Square in 2011. While Mansour claims the charges are fabrications, Germany’s Federal Police said he was the subject of an extradition requested by Egypt.

Following a “preliminary” interrogation at the airport, the Al-Jazeera journalist was transferred to Berlin’s Moabit Prison on Sunday.

On Monday he was released without bail or charges after a German judge examined the details of the Egyptian case. According to a statement by the German prosecution’s spokesman Martin Steltner the decision was taken after discussing political and diplomatic concerns related to the case with Germany’s federal authorities.

“After the evaluation, concerns over agreeing to extradition couldn’t be dispelled despite assurances from Egypt,” Steltner said.

In a press conference in Berlin on Tuesday Mansour, 52, said he wasn’t interrogated by the public prosecutor who released him following a meeting by members of the German government.

Since Interpol has not issued a notice on Mansour it remains unclear why Germany acted on Egypt’s extradition request.

Mansour said he visited Germany in February and wasn’t stopped. He attributed his brief arrest to President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi’s visit to Germany earlier this month and suggested that his detention was politically motivated, a result of the influence of German government officials whose names he did not give.

Mansour’s attorney Patrick Teubner said there were no strings attached to his client’s release and no further charges or legal matters pending against him in Germany.

“I think that was absolutely the right decision,” Teubner told the Associated Press. “There was no other alternative.”

Prior to Mansour’s release a spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry told reporters in Berlin that his country had no plans to extradite Mansour to Egypt.

“I don’t think one can say this loudly enough: of course, nobody will be extradited from Germany who risks being sentenced to death abroad,” he said.

While officials kept mum about the incident, German press reports suggested that Mansour’s arrest was related to his links with the militant Nusra front, a powerful rebel faction in Syria that operates as Al-Qaeda’s franchise in Syria and Lebanon. Last month Mansour gained rare access to the group’s leader, Abu Mohamed Al-Golani, who gave a lengthy interview to Al-Jazeera during which his head was covered to protect his identity.

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