President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi (Photo: Al Ahram)
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi stressed in a statement on Monday that no journalists in Egypt are being jailed over crimes related to publishing.
The statement came following a meeting with editors-in-chief of various African newspapers.
The president said that he didn’t want to see any journalists being tried in Egyptian courts, adding that if a foreign journalist was convicted, he would only deport him from the country.
El-Sisi said that the journalists currently being detained were tried before he officially took charge.
“Thus, I could not interfere in the judicial authorities as Egypt respects the independence it guarantees them under the constitution,” El-Sisi said, “so we handled some cases with the consideration of presidential powers guaranteed by the constitution,” he added.
In November 2014, El-Sisi issued a law authorising non-Egyptian convicts and defendants on trial to be sent to their home countries to be tried or serve their sentences there.
The law was partially applied to Al Jazeera journalists currently being tried in Egypt as Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fahmy were released from jail, but their trials are still taking place in Egypt.
Many human rights activists are condemning the detention of Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abou-Zeid, also known as Shawkan, who has not officially been charged with any crime since August 2013.
The photojournalist was arrested while covering the violent dispersal by security forces of a sit-in by supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
On Wednesday, the freedom committee within Egypt's press syndicate is holding a press conference dubbed “two years since Shawkan’s arrest” in order to discuss whether Shawkan’s detention is legal or not.