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Egypt president's comments on Fahmy draw hope

In this image made from video broadcast on Egypt
In this image made from video broadcast on Egypt's State Television, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi speaks in a nationally televised broadcast in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, July 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Egypt's State Television)
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By The Canadian Press

The family of an Egyptian-Canadian journalist imprisoned in Cairo is expressing cautious optimism at comments Egypt's president has made on the case.

Mohamed Fahmy's trial on terrorism-related charges along with his fellow Al-Jazeera English colleagues has been denounced as a sham by a number of international observers. The judge sentenced the 40-year-old to seven years in prison two weeks ago.

Egypt's president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi had initially taken a tough stance on the controversial case, saying he would not interfere in court rulings or the judicial process.

But el-Sissi has now told editors of certain Egyptian media outlets that the heavy sentences handed down to Fahmy and his colleagues have had a "very negative" impact on his country's reputation.

He also said he wished the journalists were never put on trial but instead deported immediately after their arrest, but stopped short of saying whether he will issue a clemency.

Fahmy's brother Sherif says the family doesn't want to read too much into el-Sissi's comments but there is a glimmer of hope that the president's words could be hinting at a pardon of some sort.

Fahmy and two colleagues — Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian Baher Mohamed — were working for Qatar-based Al-Jazeera English when they were arrested on Dec. 29.

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