Egypt’s president ‘can’t help’ Greste

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Egyptian head-of-state Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi told the Associated Press Saturday that he cannot interfere with the judiciary in the case of Australian-Latvian dual citizen Peter Greste, who was sentenced to an extended jail term along with Al Jazeera field colleagues for reporting on the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood last December.

The president in his comments repeated a previous statement that he would have preferred to see the three journalists – correspondents Greste and Mohamed Fadel Mahmy and producer Baher Mohammed, deported from Egypt instead of subject to the trial and sentencing which has brought international outrage upon the country’s government, courts and media sphere.

Because the three have lodged appeals against their convictions, el-Sissi said he must refrain from trying to influence the courts. He did not specify whether a presidential pardon might be in the works after the appeals process is followed through.

“If I had been in charge at the time, I never would have let the issue go so far. I would have deported them,' he said.

But he went on to say that if Egypt is to have an independent judiciary, 'We can't accept criticism or comment' on court rulings.

Peter Greste is a dual-citizen of Australia and Latvia, however has yet to be issued his passport for which he applied years ago. As LSM reported, Latvia's Foreign Ministry has been trying to expedite this particular formality despite the complicating circumstances of Greste's current incarceration in Cairo.

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