(Updates with comment from Peter Greste's brother in Australia)
By Ali Abdelaty
CAIRO, July 7 Egyptian President Abdel Fattah
al-Sisi said he wished the imprisoned Al Jazeera journalists,
convicted of aiding "a terrorist group", had been deported and
not put on trial, a newspaper reported on Monday.
Sisi's comments sparked hope for the family of Australian
reporter Peter Greste who, along with colleagues Mohamed Fahmy
and Baher Mohamed, was jailed last month for 10 years.
Sisi was quoted by Egypt's Al-Masry Al-Youm private
newspaper as saying the verdict "had very negative effects".
"I wished they were deported right after they were arrested
instead of getting put on trial," Sisi added during a meeting
with local journalists on Sunday.
Sisi's initial reaction to the ruling was that he would not
interfere in court verdicts. Monday's comments could be a hint
he might use his presidential power to pardon the journalists,
who still have a chance to appeal against the verdict in a
Peter Greste's brother, Andrew, said he was heartened by the
"I'm sure images of Peter in the cage in the court are not
images Egypt really wants distributed around the world," Andrew
Greste told reporters in Brisbane. "And the publicity they're
getting out of this I'm sure is not the publicity any country
Peter Greste, Al Jazeera English Cairo bureau chief Fahmy, a
dual Canadian-Egyptian citizen, and Egyptian network producer
Mohamed were detained in December.
It was unclear how Mohamed could be deported. Sisi, in his
reported comments, did not specify the journalists by
nationality or name.
The three were convicted of aiding a terrorist group - a
reference to ousted president Mohamed Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood
group - by broadcasting lies that harmed national security and
supplying money, equipment and information to a group of
Egypt has banned the Brotherhood and declared it a terrorist
Andrew Greste said he was not sure if the comments would
lead to a resolution.
"I'd like to think that there's things happening at all
levels ... and everyone can talk about it and seek an amicable
solution," he said.
Former army chief Sisi last year orchestrated the ouster of
Mursi, a senior Muslim Brotherhood member, in reaction to mass
protests against his rule.
Mursi's removal was followed by a security crackdown on
Islamist activists and some media outlets, including the
Qatar-based Al Jazeera network.
Al Jazeera, whose Qatari owners back the Brotherhood and
have been at odds with Egypt's leadership, said the court ruling
defied "logic, sense and any semblance of justice".
Washington had described the sentences as "chilling" and
"draconian" and Britain, whose ambassador attended the ruling
hearing, summoned the Egyptian ambassador to protest.
(Additional reporting by Mostafa Hashem and Jane Wardell in
Sydney; Writing by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Eric Walsh and Nick