German authorities on Monday ordered the release prominent Al Jazeera journalist Ahmed Mansour two days after detaining him upon the request of Egypt, a move that sparked outrage from rights groups.
Mansour, one of Al Jazeera network’s television journalists, was released after Egypt was unable to dispel concerns about his extradition process, Berlin public prosecutor’s office said in a statement. Earlier, the Arabic reporter was apprehended by German authorities at Berlin airport while flying to Doha, where Al Jazeera’s headquarters are located.
“We welcome this decision by the German prosecutor,” said Al Jazeera spokesman Herath Aldouni, adding that charges against Mansour had been dropped. Berlin prosecutors said they would not seek his extradition. Earlier, a German foreign ministry stated in a news conference that Germany would not extradite anyone to any country wherein he or she could be sentenced to death.
“I thank the defense team. I thank the free press. I thank all of you,” 52-year-old Mansour, dressed smartly in black, shouted to a crowd of his supporters who thronged outside central Berlin’s Moabit prison.
A Cairo court sentenced Mansour, an Egyptian-British dual national in absentia to 15 years in prison for torture and other charges which the journalist has deemed “absurd.”
The crowd chanted “Allah Akbar” and “down down military rule,” the slogan of Muslim Brotherhood, to protest against the current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi led military government which ousted the previous Mohammed Mursi government in 2013. Egypt accuses Al Jazeera of being the mouthpiece of Muslim Brotherhood, the Qatar backed Islamist movement.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was criticized by opposition parties and rights groups for welcoming al-Sisi this month. German industrial group Siemens signed an 8-billion-euro ($9-billion) gas and wind-power deal with Egypt during the visit of Sisi.
An Egyptian court jailed three Al Jazeera journalists on charges last year that included aiding a terrorist group. Australian Peter Greste, who was one of them, was released in February after 400 days in prison.