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Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on Tuesday rejected calls from the United States and other Western governments that he pardon or commute the sentences of three Al-Jazeera journalists who were handed heavy prison terms a day earlier in a court ruling that raised international outrage. El-Sissi’s tough stance reflected an image the former army chief has sought to project to the Egyptian public — one of a strong leader defying foreign pressure on Egypt. Nationalist media bolstered that narrative Tuesday, praising the verdicts as a sign of the judiciary standing up to outside interference. In a nationally televised speech to graduating military cadets, el-Sissi said he would not interfere in court rulings or the judicial process. Legal experts said that doesn’t rule out a pardon later after any appeals are exhausted — a process that could take months, with the three journalists likely to remain in prison for the duration.



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