I would like to help today and donate

Next
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Next
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
CLOSE
NEWS

Fair Trials call on INTERPOL to clarify role in journalist’s arrest

editor - June 22, 2015 - extradition, INTERPOL, red notice

Following the arrest of Ahmed Mansour in Berlin over the weekend, Fair Trials has written to the Secretary-General of INTERPOL requesting clarification of the international police organisation’s role regarding Mansour’s detention.

The senior Al-Jazeera journalist was arrested as he tried to board a flight to Qatar. Conflicting news reports suggest this was based on an Egyptian warrant distributed but perhaps not issued by INTERPOL. The organisation stated that there is no Red Notice – a ‘wanted’ alert requesting an individual’s arrest – for Mansour, but German federal police and Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesmen cite an INTERPOL request as the basis of his arrest.

The range of reports and the contradictory information held within them demonstrate that INTERPOL’s involvement remains unclear. It has been argued that the charges brought against Mansour and other Al-Jazeera journalists are in fact an attempt to silence them, and the validity of the arrest warrant has been put into question. Germany had been heavily criticised for complying with the request; the case against Mansour was described by his lawyer as ‘politically tainted’. Journalists, and especially those working for the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera organisation, have been said to be targeted by Egyptian authorities because of the existing tensions between the countries.

This time last year, Jago Russell, Chief Executive of Fair Trials, called on INTERPOL to ensure that unfair arrest requests would not be disseminated worldwide, warning the organisation of Egypt’s tendency to abuse the system:

“Egypt has a track-record of misusing INTERPOL’s global policing networks to pursue people convicted in politically-motivated show trials, leaving them with “wanted person” alerts on police databases across the globe. INTERPOL must not allow this to happen again to the journalists convicted in their absence in the “Al-Jazeera” case. If it fails to do so it will give global force to these shocking convictions and make it impossible for these people to do their important work of exposing oppression across the globe.”

Fair Trials is leading a campaign to help make INTERPOL more effective, and in recent months there has been real progress. INTERPOL have announced changes to the way the organisation's Red Notice system works, and has also convened a Working Group to study the question of information processing through its channels, at all levels, including before the CCF (Commission for the Control of INTERPOL's Files). Civil society organisations like Fair Trials and CMS (Centre for Peace Studies in Zagreb) have been invited to attend a meeting of the body, and INTERPOL will get advice from the new CCF Chair Ms Nina Vajic, a former European Court of Human Rights judge, and soon the AS/Jur report of Mr Fabritius.

You can read more about the announced reforms here.

Read the full letter regarding Ahmed Mansour’s arrest here.

Also, Fair Trials’ 2014 letter to INTERPOL is available here.

AUGUST UPDATE: INTERPOL wrote to us on 3rd August 2015 to confirm that a Red Notice had not been issued in this case. It appears that German authorities chose to maintain on their systems information that had been provided by the Egyptian National Bureau to all INTERPOL members, while being aware of INTERPOL's requests to remove this data. 

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please telephone Fair Trials’ press department on 020 7822 2370 or 07950 849 851.

For regular updates follow Fair Trials on Twitter or sign up to our monthly bulletin at the bottom of the page.

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please call the media team on +44 (0) 7749 785 932 or email [email protected]

Keep up to date

Receive updates on our work and news about Fair Trials globally

Activities in the following sections on this website are supported by the Justice Programme of the European Union: Legal Experts Advisory Panel, Defence Rights Map, Case Law Database, Advice Guides and Latest News. More information about our financial supporters is available here.