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Al-Jazeera journalist arrested in Berlin

German federal police have said one of Al-Jazeera's journalists has been arrested at Berlin's Tegel Airport on an international warrant initiated by Egypt. Ahmed Mansour had been on his way to Qatar.

Ahmed Mansour, who has dual Egyptian and British citizenship and is presenter on Al-Jazeera Arabic, was sentenced last year in absentia to 15 years in prison by a Cairo court.

The German news agency DPA, quoting federal police on Saturday, reported that the international arrest warrant concerned several unspecified alleged offences.

Al-Jazeera in a press release Saturday said Mansour had told it by phone that he would remain in custody until Monday when he would face a German judge who would decide on his case. Mansour had rejected the charges as absurd, it said.

Last October, Al-Jazeera in a press release said it denied Egypt's charge that Mansour had "tortured" a lawyer in Tahrir Square during Egypt's revolution in 2011.

The Qatari-based television channel said it was "paying the price for its professionalism" amid strains between Egypt and the Gulf state.

It said Mansour had been "targeted with more than 150 false accusations and complaints by Egyptian authorities."

'Very serious development'

Reuters broke news of Mansour's arrest and quoted international lawyer Saad Djebbar as saying, "This is a very serious development."

"We knew that the Egyptians were going to set such a trap to harass our journalists and this is what has happened," said Djebbar.

He added that Mansour was arrested at Tegel as he tried to board a Qatar Airways flight from Berlin to Doha, Qatar's capital.

Cairo has previously accused Qatar of backing the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

The movement was toppled in 2013 by Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, Egypt's military chief turned elected president.

El-Sissi visited German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on an official visit earlier this month. Rights groups urged Merkel to press him to end "the gravest human rights crisis in Egypt in decades."

'Misunderstanding'

Al-Jazeera quoted Mansour in its press release on Saturday as saying: "I am now in detention in berlin airport [sic] in Germany as I was heading back to Doha."

"We hope that this misunderstanding will be resolved quickly, he said.

"It is quite ludicrous that a country like Germany would enforce and support such a request made by a dictatorial regime like the one we have in Egypt," Mansour said.

"The Interpol itself cleared my name with this document that I have in my hands," he added.

Two still awaiting retrial outcome

In February, Egypt released Al-Jazeera journalist Peter Greste, an Australian national, after 400 days in prison on charges of aiding the Brotherhood.

Ägypten Al Jazeera Journalisten Mohammad Fahmy und Baher Mahmoud

Fahmy and Mahmoud face retrial

Two other Al-Jazeera journalists, Egyptian Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy, a naturalized Canadian, were released on bail in February in Egypt, pending a retrial outcome due on June 25. They denied the charges leveled against them.

Last month, Fahmy's lawyer filed a lawsuit in a Canadian court, accusing his employer of negligence. Al-Jazeera said it was saddened by Fahmy's move.

ipj/sms (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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