Al-Jazeera reporter still held in Berlin on Egypt warrant

 Al-Jazeera journalist Ahmed Mansour was being held in Berlin police custody Sunday awaiting a judge`s decision on his further detention on an international arrest warrant issued by his native Egypt, authorities said.

Berlin: Al-Jazeera journalist Ahmed Mansour was being held in Berlin police custody Sunday awaiting a judge`s decision on his further detention on an international arrest warrant issued by his native Egypt, authorities said.

In a case that has raised issues about press freedom and German relations with Egypt under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Mansour was arrested Saturday at a Berlin airport having been accused by Cairo of committing "several crimes".

"He is in police custody," a spokesman for the Berlin public prosecutor`s office, Martin Steltner, told AFP Sunday.

"The Berlin prosecutor`s office is examining the legal assistance request" from Egypt, he added.

Mansour, who also has British citizenship, is to appear before a judge, who is to decide as early as Sunday whether to hold him in detention and launch extradition procedures or release him, Berlin authorities said.

Al-Jazeera said on its website that 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 network said.

Mansour tweeted angrily in detention on Saturday: "The question now is how have the German government and Interpol become tools in the hands of a bloodthirsty regime in Egypt that came to power through a coup, and is led by the terrorist (President) Abdel Fattah al-Sisi."

The 52-year-old journalist also told Al-Jazeera he was facing rape and robbery charges. 

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

While in Berlin, he interviewed an expert on Islamist militants from a prominent German think-tank.

Egypt`s Sisi visited Germany on June 3, as prominent rights groups urged Chancellor Angela Merkel to press him to end "the gravest human rights crisis in Egypt in decades." 

Merkel in a joint press conference with Sisi voiced criticism of Egypt`s use of the death penalty and record on religious freedom, but pledged closer economic ties with its partner in the fight against Islamic extremism.