BERLIN // A prominent Al-Jazeera journalist will remain in German custody for a second night, pending a court decision on whether to extradite him to Egypt or set him free, prosecutors said on Sunday.
As dozens of supporters protested on Sunday in front of the Berlin court building where Ahmed Mansour was being held, his lawyer, Fazli Altin, called for the journalist’s immediate release, saying that Germany was getting involved in a politically tainted case.
Mansour, 52, a journalist with the Qatar-based broadcaster’s Arabic service, was detained at Berlin’s Tegel airport on Saturday on an Egyptian arrest warrant, his lawyers said.
Mansour, who holds dual Egyptian-British nationality, was trying to board a Qatar Airways flight to Doha when he was detained, the station reported.
A spokesman for the Berlin prosecutor’s office said that the Al Jazeera journalist would be taken to a prison in the city and that further decisions on his future will be made next week.
His lawyer said a court on Monday would most likely check out the lawfulness of his possible extradition to Egypt.
Mansour’s detention is the latest in a long series of legal entanglements between Egypt and satellite news channels. The station said he 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.
Mansour’s arrest is the result of “Egypt’s terrible revenge against journalists that cross the regime”, press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders said on Sunday, adding if Germany did extradite him “it will be putting itself at service of a dictatorial regime and will dishonour itself”.
Mr Altin said Mansour was accused in the warrant “of having harmed the reputation of Egypt massively” and of having committed torture.
“It’s unacceptable for the freedom of press and embarrassing for Germany that Mansour is being held here on these clearly political allegations,” he said.
Patrick Teubner, a second lawyer for Mansour, said the journalist had been travelling on his British passport when he was detained. The UK confirmed that it was providing consular assistance to him.
“This case has clearly taken on a political dimension,” Mr Teubner said.
Both lawyers expressed surprise that Mansour had been detained at all. They said they thought Interpol had put out a note on Mansour, which would show up at passport controls, but that Interpol had not officially asked for the arrest of Mansour.
Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelattie said, however, that Germany arrested Mansour based on the red flag put for him by the Interpol. He said Egyptian judicial authorities, including the chief prosecutor in Cairo, were speaking with German authorities to clarify what crimes he is wanted for.
* Associated Press