Sisi says he cannot pardon detained journalists

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said he cannot pardon journalists out of fear of interfering with Egypt's 'independent' judiciary. (File photo: AFP)

Egypt’s president Abdel Fattal al-Sisi said he cannot grant amnesty to detained journalists until a court issued a final verdict, as doing so would interfere with the country’s “independent” judiciary, Al Ahram Online reported.

Members of the Federation of Arab Journalists asked the president to pardon detained and imprisoned reporters during a meeting on Monday.

While Sisi said that deporting journalists is the best measure to take against violations, he maintained that Egypt’s judiciary was “completely independent,” claiming that it barred him from intervention.

Egyptian law does not allow presidential pardons until a court issues a final decision, he added.

The case of three journalists reporting for the al-Jazeera English network, a Qatar-based news channel, attracted international attention and condemnation.

The three journalists, an Egyptian, an Egyptian-Canadian and an Australian had been sentenced to serve seven to 10 years in prison by a Cairo court in June for charges of spreading false news and aiding the Muslim Brotherhood, a group disbanded and outlawed by Egyptian authorities.

A court is currently reviewing an appeal submitted by their lawyers, as their continued detention raises concerns over Egypt’s press freedoms.

The U.S. has called upon Egyptian authorities to release the journalists adding that clemency be granted for all “all politically motivated sentences.”

Sisi said in a July meeting he would have rather had the journalists deported than put on trial.

Diaa Rashwan, head of Egypt’s Journalists’ syndicate, who met with the president named five Egyptian journalists currently detained for charges unrelated to publishing.

He also urged the president to issue an amnesty upon the final verdict in their cases.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:43 - GMT 06:43