CAIRO, July 7 (UPI) -- Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said he would have preferred to see three Al Jazeera journalists deported rather than convicted for supporting the banned Muslim Brotherhood.
Immediately after Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohammed were given seven-year sentences in a trial criticized internationally as a sham, Sisi said he would not attempt to overrule or otherwise interfere with the verdict, adding the decision was to be respected. His comments caused a further outcry of criticism from journalists around the world.
Al Jazeera has said its journalists were merely reporting the news from Cairo, and is continuing to ask for their employees' release from prison. The three were arrested in December after Egyptian authorities shut down Al Jazeera's Cairo news bureau. The Muslim Brotherhood has been the subject of a government crackdown since President Mohamed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood supporter, was forced from office in July.