Egypt's President says he will not interfere with a judicial verdict that sentenced three Al Jazeera journalists to lengthy jail terms.

Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste were jailed for between seven and 10 years on Monday for what the Egyptian government described as spreading false news and aiding a terrorist organisation.

Global demonstrations were held on Tuesday, 24 hours after the sentences were handed down. Al Jazeera is calling for the verdicts to be overturned and the journalists to be released.

But giving a televised address, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi distanced himself from the judicial process. He said: "We will not interfere in judicial matters because the Egyptian judiciary is an independent and exalted judiciary, no one interferes with the affairs of state institutions, no one comments or talks about state institutions.”

Peter Greste is an award-winning Australian journalist, and the country’s prime minister has been quick to sound a note of caution. 

Tony Abbott said: "What we don't want to do is engage in unhelpful megaphone diplomacy... What we want to do is to talk calmly and patiently and reasonably to the Egyptian government. We want what's best for the long-term interests of Egypt as well as what's best for Peter Greste and his colleagues."

So what effect will this have on Egypt’s international reputation, and what is next in the campaign to seek the jailed journalists’ release?

Presenter: Hazem Sika


Steve Crawshaw - director of the office of the secretary general, Amnesty International.

Alex Thomson - chief correspondent for Channel 4 News.