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Al Jazeera demands release of journalist detained in Germany


Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2015-06-21

The Qatar-based Al Jazeera TV channel on Sunday urged Germany to release Ahmed Mansour, a senior Arabic service journalist who was arrested Saturday at a Berlin airport over an Egyptian arrest warrant.

"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," said Mostefa Souag, the network’s acting director general.

"Ahmed Mansour is one of the Arab world's most respected journalists and must be released immediately," Souag added.

A British-Egyptian dual national, Mansour was sentenced in absentia in Egypt to 15 years in prison last year over torture charges.

Mansour’s arrest at Berlin's Tegel airport on Saturday was the latest in a long series of legal entanglements between Egypt and the Qatar-based satellite news channel.

While not identifying Mansour by name, German police spokesman Meik Grauer said authorities detained a 52-year-old Egyptian-British journalist and that prosecutors would look into the arrest warrant Sunday, according to the Associated Press.

However on Sunday, the network reported that Mansour had told Al Jazeera in a phone call that he would remain in custody until Monday when he will face a German judge who will decide on his case.

In October, Al Jazeera said Interpol had rejected an Egyptian request to put out a "red notice" for Mansour's arrest. In a Facebook post Saturday night, Mansour said he showed German authorities an email from Interpol saying he was not wanted by them.

'#ShameOnYouGermany' trends on Twitter

Mansour’s arrest triggered an outcry on social media sites with the hashtag #ShameOnYouGermany trending on Twitter.

His detention comes weeks after Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi met Chancellor Angela Merkel during a visit to Germany.

It follows widespread international condemnation of Egypt’s December 2013 arrest of three Al Jazeera journalists from their Cairo hotel room. Australian journalist Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy, who has Canadian citizenship, and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed were convicted of being part of a terrorist group and airing falsified footage intended to damage national security in a widely criticized trial.

Greste was deported in February while Fahmy and Mohamed are free on bail pending a retrial.

Egypt and Qatar have had tense relations since 2013, when the Egyptian military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi amid massive protests. Doha is a strong backer of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood. Cairo accuses Al Jazeera of being a mouthpiece for Morsi's supporters, charges denied by the broadcaster.

Earlier this year, Mansour conducted an interview with Abu Mohamed al-Jolani, head of the Nusra Front, the al Qaeda branch fighting in Syria's civil war. The location of the interview was not revealed although Mansour hinted that it had taken place in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, where Nusra has seized several government posts over the past few months.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)


Date created : 2015-06-21


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