Tony Abbott (pic) says he is bewildered by an Egyptian court's decision to jail Peter Greste. Source: AAP
PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has vowed to keep lobbying Egypt's government to free jailed Australian journalist Peter Greste.
THE federal government on Tuesday summoned a senior Egyptian diplomat to express outrage over the seven-year sentence handed to the Al Jazeera reporter in Cairo.It was the latest diplomatic overture from the government to Egyptian authorities about the case, including from Mr Abbott who twice contacted the country's leadership to lobby for Mr Greste."The Australian government will continue to make intercessions at every level with the Egyptian government and elsewhere to try and ensure that Peter Greste and his colleagues are swiftly released," the prime minister told parliament on Tuesday.He said the government understood and supported the Egyptian government's crackdown on extremist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, but couldn't comprehend why those reporting on the group were jailed.Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Mr Greste's harsh treatment as a journalist stirred "something elemental in the spirit of all free people".But he supported the prime minister's call for cool heads to prevail."These are the times when passions run high but the best interests of Peter and his two colleagues will not be served by inflammatory rhetoric," Mr Shorten told parliament.The government sought to summon Egypt's ambassador to the meeting at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, but discovered Hassan El-Laithy is in Cairo.Egyptian Charge d'Affaires Sherif Bedeir Hussein was called instead, and he refused to speak to journalists after leaving the half-hour meeting in Canberra.Attorney-General George Brandis said the government would make a formal request to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi seeking his intervention.