Australian PM lobbies for Al Jazeera journalist's release

Tony Abbott reportedly spoke to Egypt's newly elected President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi over the weekend about Australian Peter Greste.

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has used a phone call to Egypt's newly elected President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi to lobby over the release of Australian Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste, it was reported.

An Egyptian court will rule on Monday in the case of Greste and his Al Jazeera colleagues, Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and producer Baher Mohamed, who are on trial for aiding members of a "terrorist organisation" in a case that has raised questions over Egypt's respect for freedoms of expression, Reuters reported.

The trio are being tried with 17 others on charges of "spreading false news" and having Brotherhood links and detained for nearly six months.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he spoke to Al Sisi over the weekend, Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported.

"I assured him - as a former journalist myself - that Peter Greste would have been reporting the Muslim Brotherhood, not supporting the Muslim Brotherhood," Abbott told the Seven Network on Monday.

Abbott said the president understood Australia's position.

"I think he understands that this would be a PR coup for the new government if Peter Greste is not dealt with severely," he said.

"I made my point. I made it as clearly as I could."

It follows similar lobbying by Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who spoke with her recently appointed Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukri over the weekend.

In Canberra, parliamentarians made a bipartisan plea for Greste's release.

Greste's two brothers will be in court for Monday's ruling. They said the family has been through agony since he was arrested in December.

"It's unthinkable for us to expect anything other than an acquittal," Mike Greste has told the ABC.

"All our lives have basically been put on hold for the last six months while we try to concentrate our efforts on securing Peter's release and supporting him as best we can."

Al Jazeera says only nine of the 20 defendants are on its staff, including two foreign reporters who are abroad. A Dutch journalist, who is not working with the channel, is also among the defendants.

US Secretary of State John Kerry also called for freedom of the press to be upheld in Egypt as he made a surprise visit to Cairo on Sunday.

Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

  • No comments yet, be the first!

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
Banking on reforms in Kuwait

Banking on reforms in Kuwait

As Kuwait stares down its first deficit in 20 years, the Gulf...

Saudis face dilemma between size and pricing in debut bond sale

Saudis face dilemma between size and pricing in debut bond sale

Riyadh is under pressure to maximise the size of its international...

How technology is changing the UAE

How technology is changing the UAE

Free wifi in public spaces and remotely monitoring utility use...

Most Discussed