Nauru's newly elected President Lionel Aingimea says no government has ever interfered with the country's courts.
The comments likely stamp out hope for substantive change from former president Baron Waqa, who lost his seat in August's elections.
The Waqa administration was criticised as authoritarian and the Australian judge Geoffrey Muecke said the government persecuted its opponents.
Mr Aingimea, a former human rights lawyer, has ushered in a new cabinet and promised to restore unity to Nauru.
But the president denies the government is interfering with the Nauru 19, a group charged over anti-government riots.
In his first interview with international media since the election, he told Mackenzie Smith what was behind the election result.