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Jazeera journalist held in Berlin denies ‘false’ charges

June 21, 2015

An Al-Jazeera journalist detained in Germany at Egypt’s request has rejected charges against him as “false” and urged Berlin against colluding with Cairo, in a video aired by the broadcaster Sunday.

“This case is false,” Ahmed Mansour said in the video message he recorded in police detention in the German capital.

“The coup regime in Egypt is too weak to drag a state like Germany and the EU into its dirty game against Egyptians,” said Mansour, referring to the Egyptian military’s ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

The Doha-based pan-Arab satellite channel said a judge was scheduled to question Mansour on Sunday, hours after he was interrogated by police.

German federal police said on Saturday that a 52-year-old journalist travelling to Doha, Qatar had been arrested at Berlin’s Tegel airport.

A police spokesman said the arrest took place at around 3:20 pm (1520 GMT), adding that while Mansour was born in Egypt, he also has British nationality.

In a separate video also released by Al-Jazeera, Mansour accused the German authorities of dealing with his case “in a way that raises suspicions over its role, through complicity with the regime in Egypt”.

Mansour also said he had been told by police that his arrest was “based on a German order, and not due to Interpol order”.

German police said the Egyptian-issued arrest warrant accused Mansour of committing “several crimes”, without giving further details.

Al-Jazeera said an Egyptian court had sentenced Mansour in absentia in 2014 to 15 years in prison, for “torturing a lawyer in 2011 on Tahrir Square” in Cairo, epicentre of an anti-regime uprising that brought down former president Hosni Mubarak.

“Mansour has rejected these absurd accusations,” the television network said.

Mansour, who hosts a popular news interview programme, recently interviewed Abu Mohamed al-Jolani, the chief of Al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate, Al-Nusra Front.

Ties between Doha and Cairo have been extremely strained over Qatar’s backing for the former, short-lived Egyptian government under the Muslim Brotherhood.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.