Egypt’s President Says He Can’t Help Jailed Aussie Journo Greste

In spite of wide-spread international condemnation, Australian journalist Peter Greste and his two colleagues Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed remain in an Egyptian prison, after being convicted in June of aiding the country’s Muslim Brotherhood. 
The trial drew media attention for the bizarre evidence against Greste, including a Gotye song and a film of some sheep, and many called for his and his colleagues’ release. Freedom for the men, however, still seems to be a long way away.
The Australian report that, in an interview yesterday, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said that, while he would “never have let the issue go so far” and would have deported rather than tried the journalists, he “cannot interfere” with his country’s legal processes.
Greste and Fahmy were jailed for seven years, while Mohamed, a news producer, was jailed for 10. They filed appeals against their sentences in late August, noting significant weaknesses in the case against them, and the process is ongoing.
At the time, it seemed unlikely that el-Sissi would step in until the appeals process was exhausted. In yesterday’s interview, he confirmed this, saying that if the country’s judiciary is to remain independent, it “can’t accept criticism or comment” on court rulings.
He has not commented on whether he plans to pardon the three at the conclusion of the appeals process.

Photo: Simon Maina via Getty Images