German authorities have released Al Jazeera journalist Ahmed Mansour, who had been detained at Berlin airport at the request of the Egyptian government.
Accompanied by his lawyers, Mansour greeted his supporters after his release on Monday, and thanked the German court for its decision.
“I extend my thanks and appreciation to the honest and honourable judges of Germany,” he said in Arabic.
“Thanks to people around the world who supported me in the last days,” Mansour added. “I’m free, I’m free, I’m free.”
Earlier reports had said a court in Germany was about to consider Egypt’s request to extradite Mansour, one of the Arab world’s most respected journalists.
Al Jazeera’s Paul Brennan, reporting from Berlin earlier, said a temporary detention investigative judge concluded his investigation with Mansour on Sunday, after which he was transferred to Moabit prison in Berlin.
Our correspondent said that the court and Mansour’s lawyers are “making the arrangements for his departure.”
Saad Djebbar, one of Mansour’s lawyer, said that while his client was “very happy” about the court’s decision, he was also “very said” that the Al Jazeera journalist was detained in the first place.
Another lawyer Patrick Teubner said that with the court decision, Mansour could now leave Germany.
Dozens of supporters of Mansour had protested in front of the Berlin court building where he was held.
Fazli Altin, another lawyer of Mansour, said that Germany was getting involved in a “politically tainted case”.
Mansour was arrested at Berlin’s Tegel airport on Saturday as he tried to board a Qatar Airways flight from Berlin to Doha, Qatar.
Responding to questions on Mansour’s arrest, a German foreign ministry spokesman told Reuters news agency earlier that no one would be extradited from Germany if the defendant risked facing the death penalty.
More than 25,000 people had signed a petition calling on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to release Mansour.
For its part, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on Egypt to stop pursuing Al Jazeera journalists.
Mansour’s detention is the latest in a long series of legal entanglements between Egypt and the Al Jazeera network.
According to court documents, he was sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison, alongside two Muslim Brotherhood members and a preacher, for allegedly torturing a lawyer in Tahrir Square in 2011, a charge both he and Al Jazeera have rejected.
Reacting to the German court’s decision, Al Jazeera’s acting director general Mostefa Souag called Mansour’s detention “an unfortunate incident.”
“We are pleased that the mistake has been rectified. We hope that this will be a lesson to the Egyptian authorities that the rest of the world values freedom of the press. Rather than trying to expand their war on journalists, they should free the journalists they have on trial and in jail in Cairo, including Baher [Mohamed] and [Mohamed] Fahmy, and end the action against those tried in absentia.
“I’d like to place on record my sincere thanks to everyone who intervened on behalf of Ahmed, including diplomats, politicians, NGOs and the thousands who signed the Avaaz petition. We look forward to welcoming Ahmed home.”
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