Font Size

- Aa +

Sun 21 Jun 2015 02:35 PM

Font Size

- Aa +

Al Jazeera journalist says surprised by arrest in Germany

Ahmed Mansour, a leading talk show host on the channel's Arabic service, speaks of being detained

Al Jazeera journalist says surprised by arrest in Germany
(Getty Images)

A high-profile Al Jazeera journalist arrested in Germany at the weekend at the request of Egypt has said he was surprised by the move and expects to face a judge soon.

Ahmed Mansour, a leading talk show host on the channel's Arabic service, told Al Jazeera by telephone: "The German authorities told me that we are dealing with an international criminal case" and a judge would decide whether he should be extradicted to Egypt.

Cairo's criminal court sentenced Mansour, who has dual Egyptian and British citizenship, to 15 years in prison in absentia last year on the charge of torturing a lawyer in Tahrir Square in 2011. Jazeera said at the time the charge was false and an attempt to silence Mansour, who is known to viewers across the Arab world.

Lawyer Saad Djebbar told Reuters Mansour had been arrested unexpectedly at Berlin airport on Saturday.

A spokesman for the German Federal Police confirmed that a 52-year-old man was arrested at Berlin's Tegel airport at 1320 GMT following an international arrest warrant from the Egyptian authorities. The spokesman said the general public prosecutor was checking the man's identity and possible extradition.

"This is a very serious development," Djebbar said. "We knew that the Egyptians were going to set such a trap to harass our journalists and that is what has happened."

Mansour was arrested as he tried to board a Qatar Airways flight to Doha, Djebbar said.

Egyptian authorities accuse Al Jazeera of being a mouthpiece of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Qatar-backed movement which President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi toppled in 2013 when he was Egypt's army chief.

In February this year, Egypt released Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste after 400 days in prison on charges that included aiding a terrorist group.

Mohamed Fahmy, a naturalised Canadian who has given up his Egyptian citizenship, and Egyptian Baher Mohamed were released on bail in February after spending more than a year in custody.

The journalists were originally sentenced to between seven and 10 years in prison on charges including spreading lies to help a terrorist organisation, which they have denied.

Egypt's high court ordered a retrial in January.

Jazeera is also locked in a legal battle with the Egyptian authorities to try to secure $150 million in compensation for what it says was damage to its media business inflicted by Cairo's military-backed rulers.