Egypt considers pardons for Al Jazeera staff

Fate of Al Jazeera journalists jailed after trial condemned by rights groups is “under study”, says President Sisi.

The UN questioned Egypt's reputation and the independence of its judiciary after the verdict [Reuters]

Egypt’s president has said the possibility of granting presidential pardons to Al Jazeera journalists jailed since last year is being considered.

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said in an interview on Thursday that the fate of three jailed Al Jazeera staff was “under study”.

“If we find that this is appropriate for Egyptian national security, then we will do it,” Sisi told the French broadcaster France 24.

A spokesperson for Doha-based Al Jazeera Media Network said: “The Egyptian authorities have it in their power to release our journalists. World opinion expects this to happen speedily, and for all three to be freed.”

Sisi issued a decree last week allowing him to repatriate foreign prisoners, raising the prospect of freedom for the journalists. 

Mohamed Fahmy, a Canadian-Egyptian, Peter Greste, an Australian national, and Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian national, have been imprisoned in Egypt for 327 days, after being falsely accused and then found guilty of aiding the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

The journalists have repeatedly said that they are being punished for just doing their jobs.

Fahmy and Greste were sentenced to seven years in prison, while Mohamed received an additional three years for having a spent bullet in his possession, which he had picked up at a protest.

Al Jazeera has dismissed the allegations and has repeatedly called for the release of its staff.

Human rights groups condemned their trial as a sham, Western governments decried the verdict, and the UN has questioned Egypt’s reputation and the independence of its judiciary.

Calls for the release of the Al Jazeera staff have previously been made by the White House, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the European Union, the Australian government and more than 150 rights groups, including Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Press Institute.

The three journalists are scheduled to appear in court on January 1, 2015, to appeal against their convictions.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies