German court to rule on al-Jazeera reporter extradition

Supporters of Ahmed Mansour demand his release outside a court in Berlin's Tiergarten district Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Mansour's supporters have been demanding his release

A German court is due to rule on an extradition request from Egypt concerning a senior journalist from the al-Jazeera channel.

Ahmed Mansour, who works for the network's Arabic-language service, was detained as he tried to board a flight from Berlin to Qatar.

A court in Egypt's capital Cairo sentenced him to 15 years in prison in absentia last year on torture charges.

Mr Mansour's lawyer said an extradition hearing would take place on Monday.

Even if the court backs his extradition, the German government could still veto the ruling.

Al-Jazeera says the charges made against Mr Mansour, who has dual British and Egyptian citizenship, are absurd and false.

He is accused, along with two Muslim Brotherhood members and an Islamic preacher, of taking part in the torture of a lawyer in Cairo's Tahrir Square in 2011, during protests against then-President Hosni Mubarak.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Ahmed Mansour spent a second night in custody in Germany on Sunday
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Protesters in Berlin demanded Mr Mansour's immediate release on Sunday

Video footage shows the lawyer being kicked but does not show Mr Mansour, according to the Associated Press news agency. The journalist later interviewed the preacher about the incident, AP says.

As Mr Mansour spent a second night in custody in Berlin on Sunday, protesters gathered outside the prison in which he is being held.

The group, calling itself the German-Egyptian Union for Democracy, demanded Mr Mansour's immediate release.

A police spokesman said that the Egyptian-issued arrest warrant accused Mr Mansour of committing "several crimes" but he gave no further details.

'Quite ludicrous'

Al-Jazeera said the warrant was previously rejected by the international police body Interpol as it did not meet its rules.

In a video recorded while detained, Mr Mansour described the incident as a "misunderstanding" and said he hoped it would be resolved quickly.

"It is quite ludicrous that a country like Germany would enforce and support such a request made by a dictatorial regime like the one we have in Egypt," he added.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Egypt's leader, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, met Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin earlier this month

"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 the al-Jazeera acting director, Gen Mostefa Souag.

Relations between Doha and Cairo have been strained by Qatar's support for the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood organisation in Egypt.

Three al-Jazeera journalists - Australian Peter Greste, Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohamed - were arrested in Egypt in 2013 and convicted of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in a case which caused international outrage.

They are being retried after their convictions were overturned in January. Mr Greste was deported to Australia in February and is being retried in absentia.

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