An Al-Jazeera journalist jailed in Egypt for broadcasting so-called false news would not qualify for New Zealand citizenship, the Internal Affairs Minister says.
Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohamed have been sentenced to three years in prison at their retrial in Cairo.
Another journalist, Peter Greste, was deported to Australia earlier this year and was tried in absentia.
An online petition is calling for Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne to grant Baher Mohamed New Zealand citizenship so he can seek deportation and find safety here.
But Mr Dunne said there was little he could do.
"He would have to be a resident before he could get citizenship. Now, if he were to become a refugee then that might open the doors but I don't think he meets the criteria for that unfortunately.
"I understand the motives behind the petition and I'm sympathetic to it but I just don't have any legal authority to act in this case," he said.
Mr Dunne said he believed it was a "show trial" and the journalists were wrongly convicted.