September 20, 2014 3:53 pm
Updated: September 20, 2014 5:20 pm

Egyptian president won’t interfere with courts in Fahmy case

In this Thursday, May 5, 2014 file photo, Mohamed Fahmy, Canadian-Egyptian acting bureau chief of Al-Jazeera, appears in a defendant's cage along with several other defendants during their trial on terror charges at a courtroom in Cairo, Egypt. An Egyptian court has convicted three journalists for Al-Jazeera English on Monday, June 23, 2014, including Egyptian-Canadian Fahmy, and sentenced them to seven years in prison each on terrorism-related charges.

AP Photo/Hamada Elrasam, File
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CAIRO – Egypt’s president says he can’t interfere with his country’s courts in the case of a jailed Egyptian-Canadian journalist.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi says if he had been in power at the time when Mohamed Fahmy and his fellow Al-Jazeera English colleagues were arrested, he would have simply deported them instead of letting their case go to trial.

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But el-Sissi, who took power in June, says if Egypt is to have an independent judiciary, his government “can’t accept criticism or comment” on court rulings.

He did not address whether he would pardon the three after their appeals process is finished.

Fahmy was working for Qatar-based satellite news broadcaster Al-Jazeera English when he was arrested on Dec. 29 along with two colleagues — Australian correspondent Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian producer.

The trio were accused of supporting the banned Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group of ousted president Mohammed Morsi. They were also charged with fabricating footage to undermine Egypt’s national security.

The journalists denied all charges against them, saying they were just doing their jobs.

Fahmy and Greste were later found guilty and sentenced to seven years in prison, while Mohamed was sentenced to 10 years. The judge’s sentencing reasons said the three journalists were brought together “by the devil” to destabilize the country.

The trial was denounced as a sham by many observers and their convictions brought heavy international criticism.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has said “bullhorn diplomacy” won’t win Fahmy’s release and has said Canada is pursuing all legal avenues to secure Fahmy’s release.

Fahmy moved to Canada with his family in 1991, living in Montreal and Vancouver for years before eventually moving abroad for work, which included covering stories for the New York Times and CNN.

© 2014 The Canadian Press

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