Reporters Without Borders urges the German authorities to free well-known Al-Jazeera presenter Ahmed Mansour and wonders if they were knowingly acting as the accomplices of Egypt’s authoritarian regime when arresting him at Berlin’s Tegel airport on 20 June on an Egyptian arrest warrant.
Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s government issued the international arrest warrant after a Cairo court sentenced Mansour in absentia on 11 October 2014 to 15 years in prison for the alleged torture of a lawyer in Tahrir Square during the January 2011 uprising. Mansour, who has British and Egyptian dual nationality and learned of his conviction from press reports, says he was not in Egypt at the time and dismisses the charges as “absurd.” “Al-Sisi’s autocratic and paranoid regime is not letting up in its hostile campaign against Qatar-based Al-Jazeera,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “Not content with mass death sentences on its Islamist opponents, Egypt exacts a terrible revenge on journalists that cross the regime, especially Al-Jazeera’s. Berlin should not take the Egyptian justice system’s arguments seriously. If the German justice system extradites Mansour, it will be putting itself at the service of a dictatorial regime and will dishonour itself.” Ever since Islamist President Mohamed Morsi’s overthrow in July 2013 and Gen. Al-Sisi’s takeover, the Egyptian authorities have been persecuting media outlets and journalists that do not toe the regime’s line. In 2014 alone, at least 30 journalists were arbitrarily arrested on charges of organizing or participating in anti-government demonstrations or “supporting a terrorist organization.” At least ten journalists are currently detained arbitrarily. Egypt is ranked 158th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.