Channel 7, Sunrise - interview with Samantha Armytage

  • Transcript, E&OE

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop joins me now live fromCanberra. Minister, good morning. You must feel for Peter's parents when you seethat vision.

JULIE BISHOP: We are utterly dismayed by this sentence. We're appalled by theseverity of it. I called Peter's parents last night. As you will have seen andheard, of course, they're devastated. We are all shocked by this verdict. Basedon the evidence that we've seen, we just cannot understand how a court couldhave come to that conclusion.

We haven't seen the reasons for the verdict yet - I understand that they willbe provided to his lawyers in due course - but we join the rest of the world incondemning this.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE: So what can the government do to try to have this sentencereviewed or overturned?

JULIE BISHOP: First, the Greste family are considering the legal appealoptions and, as you heard Andrew say they'll be considering that legal adviceover the next few days. In the meantime, we have called in the EgyptianAmbassador - he's actually in Cairo at present, so we're seeking to make contactwith the Egyptian Ambassador in Cairo. In the meantime, we're calling inhisdeputy here in Canberra to register our concerns at the highest level.

I am seeking to make contact with Foreign Minister Shoukri - he is the newForeign Minister. I spoke with him over the weekend but I'm trying to makecontact with him again. He's currently travelling. I'm seeking a call with himto register our shock and dismay. Then we are going to register a formaldiplomatic-level request with the new President of Egypt to see if he canintervene in the proceedings at this stage. We are told that it's an independentlegal process and that the appeal process must be allowed to take its coursebefore the President can consider a pardon or any clemency. But we are going toseek to find if there's an intervention that can be made at this stage of theproceedings.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE: Right, okay, well that sounds good.

Minister, US Secretary of State John Kerry is in Baghdad at the moment formeetings. He's described it as a "draconian sentence" and "a disturbing setbackto Egyptian's transition". Have you spoken with him, and do you see John Kerryand perhaps the White House as our best bet at having this sentence overturnedfor Peter Greste?

JULIE BISHOP: We've been working with the United States from the outset inrelation to this. I haven't been providing a running commentary through themedia because I wanted to give Peter Greste's legal team every opportunity topresenthis defence without there being seen to be a political interference fromAustralia.

But I can assure you that, behind the scenes, we have been working with othergovernments, including the United States. We've been working with governments inthe region who are closer to Egypt than Australia is. We have been makingrepresentations at every level - not only within the interim Egyptian Governmentand the new government, but within other governments. I know that they have alsobeen making representations on Australia's behalf for Peter Greste, registeringthe concern that this is not the path to democracy that Egypt claims - thatfreedom of the press is fundamental to democracy and that the jailing ofjournalists in the position of Peter Greste - who had just arrived in Egyptbefore he was detained, then this is not a message that Egypt should be sendingthe 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 MinisterJulie Bishop, thank you for your time this morning.

JULIE BISHOP: Thank you.

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