German judge declares Al-Jazeera journalist's arrest legal, extradition to be assessed

Miro Guzzini , Sunday 21 Jun 2015

Egypt's extradition request is to be assessed Monday by Berlin's high court. Charges against Ahmed Mansour are still unclear, lawyers denounce 'political allegations'

Ahmed Mansour
This undated handout photo provided courtesy of Al-Jazeera, shows Ahmed Mansour, 52, a prominent journalist with the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera broadcaster's Arabic service (Photo: AP)
A judge in Berlin Sunday formally evaluated the case of Ahmed Mansour and declared his arrest legal, ordering the well known Al-Jazeera journalist to be kept in detention pending enquiries into his possible extradition to Egypt.
Mansour was detained by German police at Berlin's Tegel Airport Saturday as he was about to board a plane to Qatar. Mansour was detained based on an international arrest warrant issued by Egypt.
The charges against Mansour are still unclear, with the German police not listing any specific accusations so far. His lawyer, Fazli Altin, told AP that he is accused of harming Egypt's reputation and of committing torture, while Al-Jazeera has claimed that abduction and rape are among the charges.
The prosecutor general of Egypt, meanwhile, reportedly called on Interpol Sunday to hand over Mansour to Egyptian authorities. A formal extradition request has been submitted to the German authorities as well.
The Berlin high court, or Kammergericht (KG), will evaluate this request Monday, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reports. According to the paper, obstacles to extradition would include the possibility of applying the death penalty or torture in this case, as well as strong hints of political motivations behind the case.
The fact that Egypt and Germany do not have an extradition treaty is not a major hindrance, an Egypt foreign ministry spokesman told AP.
In practice, German courts assess extradition requests by examining the political situation in the country concerned. The German foreign ministry, the justice ministry and occasionally the chancellory are also asked to provide statements.
Even if the KG approves extradition, the German government could still veto the procedure for various "overriding" reasons, FAZ noted.
Mansour and his lawyers maintain that the accusations against him are baseless and politically motivated. "It's embarrassing for Germany that Mansour is being held here on these clearly political allegations," Altin told AP.
Several German politicians and academics have also expressed concern over the affair. 
"The judiciary of Berlin cannot, under any circumstances, make itself a vicarious agent of an arbitrary regime in Cairo," German MP Franziska Brantner told FAZ, insisting that no extraditions should be allowed to a country that enacts the death penalty.
Guido Steinberg, the researcher and advisor to the chancellory interviewed by Mansour in Berlin, also criticised the German authorities for helping Egypt to "silence a dissident," according to Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Short link: