Ms JULIE BISHOP (Curtin—Minister for Foreign Affairs) (13:56):  on indulgence—I join with the Leader of the Opposition and the Labor Party in expressing our deep concern about the treatment that has been handed out to Peter Greste. As I said to Michael and Andrew when I met with them last week, the Australian government, with the support of the opposition, will do what we can to have him home as soon as possible. We have raised his case at the highest levels of the Egyptian government before the election and after the election. Our Prime Minister has spoken directly to the President. I have spoken to foreign minister Shoukry on numerous occasions. We did see a glimmer of hope recently when the President made a statement in an interview that there was consideration of a presidential pardon or clemency. We certainly welcome that. It is not what we have been told in either official or unofficial channels, but we have been urging the Egyptian government to consider releasing him now. His appeal against the sentence is listed for 1 January 2015, and up until now we have been informed that the legal process has to run its full course. If there is any opportunity for the Egyptian government to find its way clear to release Peter Greste now, so that he can come home to his family and friends, we will certainly do all we can to achieve that. I want to pay tribute, as the Greste family have done, to our diplomats in Cairo, who have been working tirelessly to make representations to every level within the Egyptian government. Might I also say that a number of our friends and allies and partners have also made representations, because the jailing of journalists for doing their job is an affront to all countries that embrace freedom, and freedom of speech particularly.

 

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