Egypt's newly elected President Abdel Fattah El Sisi said Tuesday he would not interfere in matters of the country’s judiciary after an international outcry over long prison sentences given to three Al Jazeera journalists a day earlier.
"We will not interfere in judicial rulings," Sisi said in a televised speech at a military graduation ceremony in Cairo. "We must respect judicial rulings and not criticize them even if others do not understand this."
The journalists — an Australian, a Canadian-Egyptian and an Egyptian — were each given seven years on Monday for aiding a "terrorist organization," a reference to the banned Muslim Brotherhood. One of the three, Baher Mohamed, was given an extra three years for possession of a spent bullet he said he had picked up off the ground.
The three have been held at Egypt’s notorious Tora Prison for six months. Al Jazeera and the BBC held a silent protest 24 hours after the verdicts in solidarity with the detained journalists.