Sisi regrets Egypt's decision to jail Al Jazeera trio
Egypt's President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi wishes the three Al Jazeera journalists imprisoned in June had not been tried but deported instead, according to local reports.
Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were sentenced to between seven and ten years in jail after being found guilty of aiding a "terrorist group" and spreading false news following a trial labelled a "sham" by Amnesty International.
"The verdict issued against a number of journalists had very negative effects; and we had nothing to do with it," Sisi told local journalists, according to newspaper al-Masry al-Youm. "I wished they were deported immediately after they were arrested instead of being put on trial."
Mohamed Fahmy, a Canadian-Egyptian, Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian, and Australian Peter Greste have been in jail since their arrest in December 2013. Their trial ended with the guilty verdicts on 23 June 2014.
Sisi has previously said that he would not interfere in the court's decision.
Speaking from Australia, Peter's brother Andrew Greste, said he was heartened by Sisi's latest comments. "I'm sure images of Peter in the cage in the court are not images Egypt really wants distributed around the world," he told reporters. "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 added.
Mohamed Fahmy's brother, Adel, also told the BBC that Sisi's remarks could be "a positive indication that something might be worked out".
He added: "We hope the president's generosity could lead him to find a solution to this unique case."
Under Egyptian law a president can only offer pardons after the appeal process is complete.