A German court today released an Al Jazeera journalist who was arrested at Berlin’s Tegel airport at the weekend on behalf of Egyptian authorities, who accuse him of torture.
Al Jazeera said Ahmed Mansour, a news anchor for its Arabic news service, had been freed without charge Monday afternoon after spending two nights in custody. Mr. Mansour confirmed the news on his Twitter feed, which he has been updating regularly from his jail cell.
German police detained 52-year-old Mr. Mansour on Saturday as he was attempting to fly to Qatar, the Gulf state where the Arab-language news channel is based.
Egyptian authorities had issued a warrant for his arrest for allegations that he tortured a lawyer in 2011 in Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the so called “Arab Spring” uprising that toppled Egypt’s long term autocratic ruler Hosni Mubarak. The charges were based on video footage that shows a lawyer being kicked in the crowded Cairo square. It is not clear that the person kicking was Mr. Mansour.
Last year Mr. Mansour, who holds British and Egyptian citizenship and is based in Doha, the Qatari capital, was sentenced by a Cairo court in absentia to 15 years. He has denied the charges against him and called them “a flimsy attempt at character assassination.”
On Sunday, Egyptian authorities asked Germany to extradite Mr. Mansour to Egypt: A request that was refused by the Berlin court on Monday afternoon.
Martin Schaefer, a German foreign office spokesman had said earlier that the German government would not extradite someone if they felt they would face the death penalty. The Egyptian government has sentenced hundreds of opposition members to death in recent months.
“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,” Mr. Shaefer said at a press conference.