CAIRO, Egypt — Egypt’s president is reportedly considering a pardon for three Al Jazeera journalists imprisoned in Cairo, including Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fahmy.
Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said in an interview Thursday with French TV station FRANCE 24 that issuing a presidential pardon for the journalists “is currently under discussion.”
His comments come just a few days after el-Sissi issued a decree that gives the president the power to deport foreigners convicted or accused of crimes.
Fahmy was working for 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 Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi. They were also charged with fabricating footage to undermine Egypt’s national security.
The journalists denied all charges, saying they were just doing their jobs.
After a trial that drew heavy international criticism, all three were found guilty. Fahmy and Greste were sentenced to seven years in prison, while Mohamed was sentenced to 10 years.
El-Sissi had initially taken a tough stance on the controversial case, saying he would not interfere in court rulings or the judicial process.
But he later told editors of certain Egyptian media outlets that the heavy sentences in the case had a “very negative” impact on his country’s reputation.
He has said that he wished the journalists had been deported after their arrests instead of being put on trial — comments he repeated in his latest interview with FRANCE 24.
Fahmy has filed an appeal, which is set to be heard on Jan. 1, and has also been seeking a temporary release on health grounds. He has Hepatitis C and also suffers from a shoulder injury which grew worse in prison.