Sisi: Al Jazeera journalists should not have been tried
Egyptian president acknowledges the 'very negative' impact the verdict had on international relations
Egypt's president has admitted that the jailed Al Jazeera journalists accused of aiding the banned Muslim Brotherhood should never have been tried, and wishes they had been deported instead, Al Jazeera reports.
In his first public statement on the matter, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi acknowledged that that the sentences given to the journalists had a "very negative" impact on the country and claimed that the Egyptian government had "nothing to do with it".
Without mentioning any of the three journalists by name, he said "I wished they were deported immediately after their arrest instead of being put on trial".
His comments come less than two weeks after Al Jazeera journalists Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy were jailed for seven years and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed received a ten year sentence.
They were convicted on charges of aiding the banned Muslim Brotherhood and spreading "false news" in what human rights groups called a "sham trial".
Sisi fell short of commenting on whether there might be a possibility of clemency for the journalists. Sisi has previously said he will not intervene in the courts as they must remain independent from the government.
But Greste's family in Australia has welcomed the comments and his brother Andrew told Al Jazeera he was "heartened" by the statement. "I'm sure images of Peter in the cage in the court are not images Egypt really wants distributed around the world" , he said. "I like to think there's an amicable solution."