SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop joins me now live from
Canberra. Minister, good morning. You must feel for Peter's parents when you see
JULIE BISHOP: We are utterly dismayed by this sentence. We're appalled by the
severity of it. I called Peter's parents last night. As you will have seen and
heard, of course, they're devastated. We are all shocked by this verdict. Based
on the evidence that we've seen, we just cannot understand how a court could
have come to that conclusion.
We haven't seen the reasons for the verdict yet - I understand that they will
be provided to his lawyers in due course - but we join the rest of the world in
SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE: So what can the government do to try to have this sentence
reviewed or overturned?
JULIE BISHOP: First, the Greste family are considering the legal appeal
options and, as you heard Andrew say they'll be considering that legal advice
over the next few days. In the meantime, we have called in the Egyptian
Ambassador - he's actually in Cairo at present, so we're seeking to make contact
with the Egyptian Ambassador in Cairo. In the meantime, we're calling in
hisdeputy here in Canberra to register our concerns at the highest level.
I am seeking to make contact with Foreign Minister Shoukri - he is the new
Foreign Minister. I spoke with him over the weekend but I'm trying to make
contact with him again. He's currently travelling. I'm seeking a call with him
to register our shock and dismay. Then we are going to register a formal
diplomatic-level request with the new President of Egypt to see if he can
intervene in the proceedings at this stage. We are told that it's an independent
legal process and that the appeal process must be allowed to take its course
before the President can consider a pardon or any clemency. But we are going to
seek to find if there's an intervention that can be made at this stage of the
SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE: Right, okay, well that sounds good.
Minister, US Secretary of State John Kerry is in Baghdad at the moment for
meetings. He's described it as a "draconian sentence" and "a disturbing setback
to Egyptian's transition". Have you spoken with him, and do you see John Kerry
and perhaps the White House as our best bet at having this sentence overturned
for Peter Greste?
JULIE BISHOP: We've been working with the United States from the outset in
relation to this. I haven't been providing a running commentary through the
media because I wanted to give Peter Greste's legal team every opportunity to
presenthis defence without there being seen to be a political interference from
But I can assure you that, behind the scenes, we have been working with other
governments, including the United States. We've been working with governments in
the region who are closer to Egypt than Australia is. We have been making
representations at every level - not only within the interim Egyptian Government
and the new government, but within other governments. I know that they have also
been making representations on Australia's behalf for Peter Greste, registering
the concern that this is not the path to democracy that Egypt claims - that
freedom of the press is fundamental to democracy and that the jailing of
journalists in the position of Peter Greste - who had just arrived in Egypt
before he was detained, then this is not a message that Egypt should be sending
the world. We'll do all we can to get Peter Greste home as soon as possible.
SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE: Absolutely, well that is good to hear. Foreign Minister
Julie Bishop, thank you for your time this morning.
JULIE BISHOP: Thank you.
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